Edwards beats up on Peru trade deal

DAVID MCNEW/Getty Images News I see that Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is now taking potshots at the U.S.-Peru trade agreement that is now going through Congress and due to hit the Senate in November. Speaking on Saturday in Newton, Iowa, Edwards summed up his reasons for opposing the deal: In short, this agreement does ...

598482_071029_edwards_05.jpg
598482_071029_edwards_05.jpg

DAVID MCNEW/Getty Images News

DAVID MCNEW/Getty Images News

I see that Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is now taking potshots at the U.S.-Peru trade agreement that is now going through Congress and due to hit the Senate in November. Speaking on Saturday in Newton, Iowa, Edwards summed up his reasons for opposing the deal:

In short, this agreement does not meet my standard of putting American workers and communities first, ahead of the interests of the big multinational corporations, which for too long have rigged our trade policies for themselves.”

This is his big strategy for victory in Iowa? As FP documented in June, bilateral trade between Peru and the United States is small potatoes: barely $2.5 billion in 2005. And most of that trade, $2 billion, was exports from the United States to Peru.

In fact, the dirty secret about the new agreement is that it would benefit U.S. exporters the most, as this summary of the deal (pdf) from the U.S. Trade Representative’s office makes clear:

Eighty percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Peru will become duty-free immediately, with remaining tariffs phased out over 10 years. Key U.S. exports will gain immediate duty-free access to Peru. Peru has agreed to allow trade in remanufactured goods, and will join the WTO Information Technology Agreement. 

Peru already enjoys good access to the U.S. market thanks to previous trade agreements, so it’s not as if the United States is suddenly going to be flooded with cheap chicha, alpaca wool, and mahogany. Edwards may think that spreading this silliness is going to help him win the Democratic nomination, or at least earn him points in protectionist Iowa. My guess is that Edwards knows better. That’s probably why he chose Peru rather than, say, the South Korea deal, which is on a different scale altogether.

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