Joe Biden on Free Trade

Vice President; previously Democratic Senator (DE)


Comprehensive transatlantic trade agreement is within reach

Just imagine what we can do as we get our respective houses in order. Already, Europe is America's largest economic partner, and the numbers are staggering: over $600 billion in annual trade that creates and sustains millions of jobs on the continent and at home, and a $5 trillion overall commercial relationship.

But the potential is so much greater still. There's a lot of interest lately in the idea of a comprehensive transatlantic trade and investment agreement. The reason we don't have one already is not because no one ever thought of it; it's because there have always been difficult issues, such as regulations and standards, which continue to divide us. The question now is whether the political will exists to resolve those longstanding differences. And if so, we should pursue a transatlantic partnership. And if we go down that road, we should try to avoid protracted rounds of negotiations. This is within our reach. It would be good on both sides of the Atlantic.

Source: Speech at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany , Feb 2, 2013

Permanent normal trade relations to Russia

[Recent internationally] important step enabled us to do some good things: to negotiate, ratify and implement the New START Treaty; to expand economic and trade relationships--including both Russian accession to the WTO and extension of the permanent normal trade relations to Russia; to build a bilateral presidential commission that networks Russian and American officials and publics on the broadest cooperative agenda the US and Russia have ever tried to share.

But we are not naive--neither Russia or the US. We will not agree with Russia on everything. For example, the US will not recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. These differences are real. But we continue to see opportunities for the US & Russia to partner in ways that advance our mutual security interest & the interest of the international community--whether by safeguarding and reducing nuclear arsenals, or boosting our trade & investment to help each other unlock the enormous innovative potential of our societies.

Source: Speech at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany , Feb 2, 2013

Countervailing duties against unfair trade practices

Vice President Biden today welcomed congressional passage of legislation clarifying the ability to apply countervailing duties (CVDs) on subsidized imports from non-market economies, including China. "By passing this law, Congress has taken a clear stand against the unfair trade practices that have put countless American jobs in jeopardy," said Vice President Biden. "We will continue to use every available tool to make sure America's trading partners play by the rules, because when they do, US businesses and workers can fairly compete--and out-compete anyone."

In December 2011, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found, in GPX v. United States, that U.S. law prohibits the Department of Commerce from applying CVDs to non-market economies, including China. This legislation overturns that decision.

Source: Press Release: Clarification of Countervailing Duty Law , Mar 6, 2012

Competition with China pushes for better products & policies

I believe that a rising China is a positive development--not only for China but also for the United States and the world. It will fuel economic growth and prosperity, and a rising China will bring to the fore a new partner with whom we can have help meeting the global challenges we all face.

Even as our nations cooperate, though, we will continue to compete. As Americans, we welcome this competition. It's part of our DNA. And it pushes our companies to develop better products and services and our government to craft better policies.

But competition can only be mutually beneficial if the rules of the game are understood, agreed upon and followed. I'm pleased that we have made progress in areas of concern. China's exchange rate is appreciating, though still substantially undervalued in our view. And China has responded to our concerns to strengthen enforcement of intellectual property rights as well.

Source: Speech with Chinese V.P. Xi to US and China CEOs , Feb 14, 2012

Built environmental and labor standards in trade agreements

Every new trade agreement should have built into it what we all talk about. Environmental standards and labor standards. But we talk about it in terms of preserving jobs here, but itís also about human rights. Signing an agreement knowing theyíre going to exploit workers either by polluting their lungs or their drinking water and/or putting them in a position where theyíre getting paid a couple bucks a week. So it should be a condition to every trade agreement that we engage in.
Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic Debate , Dec 13, 2007

Toughest choice: rationalizing competition & trade policy

Q: What do you think the toughest choice you have left to make is? What havenít you made up your mind on yet? And why havenít you?

A: I know exactly what Iíd do in those foreign policy issues. But quite frankly, I think that the toughest choice for me, the thing Iím most unsure about, is how you rationalize competition and trade policy. I think thatís the single most difficult challenge that I will have as president.

Source: 2007 Democratic radio debate on NPR , Dec 4, 2007

Opposes fast-track to protect labor rights

Defend Workers in Trade Negotiations: Joe Biden believes that US trade negotiations must protect American workers by insisting on basic labor and environmental standards. Thatís why he opposed CAFTA and fast track authority for President Bush. He will continue to fight for better labor and environmental standards in trade agreements and will oppose new trade agreements that donít meet high standards.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.joebiden.com, ďIssuesĒ , Nov 22, 2007

Shut down any imports of toys from China

If I were president, Iíd shut down any imports from China, period, in terms of their toys -- flat shut it down. Imagine if this was Morocco selling us these toys, we would have shut it down a year ago. They have mortgage on our house because Bush mortgaged us to a $1 trillion to them. He is responsible for this. This is outrageous.
Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University , Oct 30, 2007

Presidentís job is to create jobs, not to export jobs

Q: Would you scrap NAFTA or fix it?

A: A presidentís job is to create jobs, not to export jobs, and the idea that we are not willing to take the prime minister of Canada and the president of Mexico to the mat to make this agreement work is just a lack of presidential leadership. I would lead, I would do that, I would change it.

Source: 2007 AFL-CIO Democratic primary forum , Aug 7, 2007

No trade agreements without workersí & environmental rights

Q: What would you do to address the issues of unfair trade and the related global issue of unfair labor practices?

A: Obviously, no trade agreements that do not include workersí rights and environmental rights. But getting right to it, it seems to me that we have an incredible opportunity here to reassert Americaís dominance in the world economic system, and that is by significantly investing in a health care policy that takes the burden off of employers.

Source: 2007 NAACP Presidential Primary Forum , Jul 12, 2007

I'm a "car guy"; I recognize importance of manufacturing

Joe confided that he was a "car guy" (his dad had managed the used car division for an auto dealer in Scranton), affirming the importance of manufacturing to America's economic future. I watched his face intently as he spoke, looking for evidence that he truly believed his words. Like millions of voters, I desperately hoped to find reasons to believe. "I know you have it rough in Michigan," Biden finally said. "You need a partner in Washington. I promise you'll have one."
Source: A Governor's Story, by Jennifer Granholm, p.155-156 , Oct 1, 2005

Joe Biden on Voting Record

No to tariffs; just enforce the law

Q: Would you call for tariffs to protect American consumers from unsafe products from China? Are you willing to go there?

A: Iím not. No, Iím not willing to go there. You donít need to start a tariff war. All you have to do is enforce the law. Enforce the law.

Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic debate , Dec 13, 2007

Voted NO on free trade agreement with Oman.

Vote on final passage of a bill to implement the United States-Oman Free Trade Agreement.
Reference: United States-Oman Free Trade Agreement; Bill S. 3569 ; vote number 2006-190 on Jun 29, 2006

Voted NO on implementing CAFTA for Central America free-trade.

Approves the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States-Free Trade Agreement entered into on August 5, 2005, with the governments of Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua (CAFTA-DR), and the statement of administrative action proposed to implement the Agreement. Voting YES would:
Reference: Central America Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act; Bill HR 3045 ; vote number 2005-209 on Jul 28, 2005

Voted NO on establishing free trade between US & Singapore.

Vote to pass a bill that would put into effect a trade agreement between the US and Singapore. The trade agreement would reduce tariffs and trade barriers between the US and Singapore. The agreement would remove tariffs on goods and duties on textiles, and open markets for services The agreement would also establish intellectual property, environmental and labor standards.
Reference: US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act; Bill S.1417/HR 2739 ; vote number 2003-318 on Jul 31, 2003

Voted NO on establishing free trade between the US and Chile.

Vote to pass a bill that would put into effect a trade agreement between the US and Chile. The agreement would reduce tariffs and trade barriers between the US and Chile. The trade pact would decrease duties and tariffs on agricultural and textile products. It would also open markets for services. The trade pact would establish intellectual property safeguards and would call for enforcement of environmental and labor standards.
Reference: US-Chile Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act; Bill S.1416/HR 2738 ; vote number 2003-319 on Jul 31, 2003

Voted YES on extending free trade to Andean nations.

HR3009 Fast Track Trade Authority bill: To extend the Andean Trade Preference Act, to grant additional trade benefits under that Act, and for other purposes. Vote to pass a bill that would enlarge duty-free status to particular products from Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador, renew the president's fast-track authority and reauthorize and increase a program to make accessible retraining and relocation assistance to U.S. workers hurt by trade agreements. It would also approve a five-year extension of Generalized System of Preferences and produce a refundable 70 percent tax credit for health insurance costs for displaced workers.
Reference: Bill HR.3009 ; vote number 2002-130 on May 23, 2002

Voted YES on granting normal trade relations status to Vietnam.

Vote to grant annual normal trade relations status to Vietnam. The resolution would allow Vietnamese imports to receive the same tariffs as those of other U.S. trading partners.
Reference: Bill HJRES51 ; vote number 2001-291 on Oct 3, 2001

Voted YES on removing common goods from national security export rules.

Vote to provide the president the authority to control the export of sensitive dual-use items for national security purposes. The bill would eliminate restrictions on the export of technology that is readily available in foreign markets.
Reference: Bill S149 ; vote number 2001-275 on Sep 6, 2001

Voted YES on permanent normal trade relations with China.

Vote to give permanent Normal Trade Relations [NTR] status to China. Currently, NTR status for China is debated and voted on annually.
Reference: Bill HR.4444 ; vote number 2000-251 on Sep 19, 2000

Voted YES on expanding trade to the third world.

Vote to expand trade with more than 70 countries in Africa, Central America and the Caribbean. The countries would be required to meet certain eligibility requirements in protecting freedoms of expression and associatio
Reference: Bill HR.434 ; vote number 2000-98 on May 11, 2000

Voted YES on renewing 'fast track' presidential trade authority.

Vote to proceed to the bill which establishes negotiating objectives for trade agreements, and renews 'fast track' trade authority for the President, which allows Congress to adopt or to reject a proposed trade agreement, but not to amend it.
Reference: Bill S 1269 ; vote number 1997-294 on Nov 5, 1997

Voted YES on imposing trade sanctions on Japan for closed market.

Resolution supporting sanctions on Japanese products if car parts markets don't open up; and seeking sharp reductions in the trade imbalances in car sales and parts through elimination of restrictive Japanese market-closing practices.
Reference: Bill S Res 118 ; vote number 1995-158 on May 9, 1995

Rated 42% by CATO, indicating a mixed record on trade issues.

Biden scores 42% by CATO on senior issues

The mission of the Cato Institute Center for Trade Policy Studies is to increase public understanding of the benefits of free trade and the costs of protectionism.

The Cato Trade Center focuses not only on U.S. protectionism, but also on trade barriers around the world. Cato scholars examine how the negotiation of multilateral, regional, and bilateral trade agreements can reduce trade barriers and provide institutional support for open markets. Not all trade agreements, however, lead to genuine liberalization. In this regard, Trade Center studies scrutinize whether purportedly market-opening accords actually seek to dictate marketplace results, or increase bureaucratic interference in the economy as a condition of market access.

Studies by Cato Trade Center scholars show that the United States is most effective in encouraging open markets abroad when it leads by example. The relative openness and consequent strength of the U.S. economy already lend powerful support to the worldwide trend toward embracing open markets. Consistent adherence by the United States to free trade principles would give this trend even greater momentum. Thus, Cato scholars have found that unilateral liberalization supports rather than undermines productive trade negotiations.

Scholars at the Cato Trade Center aim at nothing less than changing the terms of the trade policy debate: away from the current mercantilist preoccupation with trade balances, and toward a recognition that open markets are their own reward.

The following ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.

Source: CATO website 02n-CATO on Dec 31, 2002

Extend trade restrictions on Burma to promote democracy.

Biden co-sponsored extending trade restrictions on Burma to promote democracy

A joint resolution approving the renewal of import restrictions contained in the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003. The original act sanctioned the ruling military junta, and recognized the National League of Democracy as the legitimate representative of the Burmese people.

Legislative Outcome: Related bills: H.J.RES.44, H.J.RES.93, S.J.RES.41; became Public Law 110-52.

Source: S.J.RES.16 07-SJR16 on Jun 14, 2007

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Page last updated: Jun 15, 2016