Presidential Candidates Positions on Trade Policy

For Immediate Release

Contact: Will Wiltschko, (831) 917-7997 or will@citizenstrade.org

Only a Few Democratic Presidential Candidates Detail Their Trade Policy Positions Prior to “Super Tuesday”

Sanders, Steyer & Warren Provide Answers to Detailed Trade Policy Questionnaire; Biden, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Gabbard & Klobuchar Campaigns Fail to Respond

Berkeley, Calif. — Just days before “Super Tuesday,” a California-based collation of labor, environmental and human rights organizations says only a few Democratic Presidential candidates have answered its detailed trade policy questionnaire.

“With trade a deciding factor in the 2016 election and one of the top issues that Donald Trump is running on in 2020, it’s discouraging that certain candidates are still unable or unwilling to explain their visions for fair trade policy,” said Will Wiltschko, executive director of the California Trade Justice Coalition. “Those who have spelled out their trade positions in detail have demonstrated a shared commitment for stronger labor, environmental and consumer standards in trade agreements moving forward.”

The California Trade Justice Coalition has published the responses from the Sanders, Steyer and Warren campaigns to its detailed trade policy questionnaire online here: TBD.

Questions addressed a range of trade-related topics pertaining to jobs, labor rights, the climate crisis, affordable medicine, consumer safety and transparency in trade policymaking. A compilation of the questions and responses is provided below.

The Biden, Bloomberg and Buttigieg campaigns each acknowledged receipt of the questionnaire, but failed to answer its questions despite repeated requests. The Gabbard and Klobuchar campaigns never responded to repeated requests in any way.

Jobs & Labor
Q: Would you require that trade agreements include measures specifically designed to combat outsourcing across sectors, including in aerospace, autos, food processing, call centers and more?

Biden — DID NOT ANSWER
Bloomberg — DID NOT ANSWER
Buttigieg — DID NOT ANSWER
Gabbard — DID NOT ANSWER
Klobuchar — DID NOT ANSWER
Sanders — YES
Steyer — YES
Warren — YES

Q: Would you insist that trade agreements include measures requiring countries to adopt, maintain and implement the International Labor Organization’s core conventions and to include swift and certain enforcement mechanisms for alleged violations of labor rights?

Biden — DID NOT ANSWER
Bloomberg — DID NOT ANSWER
Buttigieg — DID NOT ANSWER
Gabbard — DID NOT ANSWER
Klobuchar — DID NOT ANSWER
Sanders — YES
Steyer — YES
Warren — YES

Q: Would you insist that trade agreements remove all limitations on the adoption, maintenance and application of strong “Buy American,” “Buy Local” and “Buy Green” government procurement preferences by the U.S. federal government, states and municipalities?

Biden — DID NOT ANSWER
Bloomberg — DID NOT ANSWER
Buttigieg — DID NOT ANSWER
Gabbard — DID NOT ANSWER
Klobuchar — DID NOT ANSWER
Sanders — YES
Steyer — YES
Warren — YES

Q: Would you require trade agreements to include enforceable disciplines against currency manipulation and misalignment?

Biden — DID NOT ANSWER
Bloomberg — DID NOT ANSWER
Buttigieg — DID NOT ANSWER
Gabbard — DID NOT ANSWER
Klobuchar — DID NOT ANSWER
Sanders — YES
Steyer — YES
Warren — YES

Partial Written Responses on Jobs & Labor:

Bernie Sanders: In 2016, Trump promised he would substantially reduce the trade deficit, stop the outsourcing of American jobs, and rip up NAFTA. He lied about all three. Since Trump has been in office, our trade deficit has broken records. He has given out over $50 billion in government contracts to companies that are shipping jobs overseas. He passed tax cuts that reward companies for offshoring even more jobs. And now more than 170,000 American jobs have been shipped overseas under his watch and the manufacturing sector is in a recession. We need a president who will actually fight for American workers, keep their promises, and stand up to the giant corporations who close down plants and send jobs overseas in a destructive race to the bottom.
As president, Bernie will renegotiate Trump’s NAFTA immediately upon taking office. The NAFTA 2.0 that Trump signed is an absolute disaster. In addition to doing nothing to stop the offshoring of jobs, the deal is a giveaway to the fossil fuel industry at a time when climate change threatens our planet.
Bernie will rewrite our trade agreements to include strong and swift enforcement mechanisms to raise the wages of workers, to prevent corporations from outsourcing American jobs, to improve the environment and combat climate change, and to end the global race to the bottom and lift living standards in the U.S. and throughout the world.

Tom Steyer: I will negotiate trade agreements with vital economic partners and emerging regions of the world to strengthen key domestic economic sectors and rebuild American national security relationships. These agreements will be negotiated in a manner that includes the voices and reflects the input of all stakeholders, particularly environmental groups, indigenous populations, and labor unions. No deal will be signed unless it respects and furthers strong labor standards and enforceable environmental protections. My administration will also rebuild our own institutions, respecting the knowledge and skills of career officials to forge and foster partnerships, networks, and collaborations that will protect American national interests, project American leadership and values, and make us safer and more prosperous.

The Climate Crisis
Q: Would you require trade agreements to include binding, easily-enforced standards to reduce climate pollution, as well as clear protections for climate and other environmental policies?

Biden — DID NOT ANSWER
Bloomberg — DID NOT ANSWER
Buttigieg — DID NOT ANSWER
Gabbard — DID NOT ANSWER
Klobuchar — DID NOT ANSWER
Sanders — YES
Steyer — YES
Warren — YES

Q: Would you insist that trade agreements eliminate investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) and any similar mechanism that allows corporations to challenge U.S. laws, regulations, court decisions and other government actions in extrajudicial tribunals that are empowered to award taxpayer compensation for violations of investors’ trade agreement rights?

Biden — DID NOT ANSWER
Bloomberg — DID NOT ANSWER
Buttigieg — DID NOT ANSWER
Gabbard — DID NOT ANSWER
Klobuchar — DID NOT ANSWER
Sanders — YES
Steyer — YES
Warren — YES

Partial Written Responses on the Climate Crisis:

Bernie Sanders: Bernie will renegotiate disastrous trade deals to protect the environment. Not only have agreements like NAFTA and Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China outsourced millions of American jobs, they have allowed corporations to outsource their pollution. Trade deals have been written in secret by billion-dollar companies to give polluters special handouts and protections, as well as the right to sue governments that pursue stronger environmental protections. Under a Sanders Administration, this will end. Trade deals will be renegotiated to ensure strong and binding climate standards.

Tom Steyer: With only 10 years left to stave off the worst effects of the climate crisis, I’m the only candidate in this race who will make combating climate change their top priority. Climate change threatens humanity and the world. Our lives and communities are in peril. If this isn’t the top priority for our next president, it won’t get done.
Combatting the climate crisis must be the guiding principle behind every foreign and domestic policy decision — including trade deals. I would absolutely include binding, easily-enforced standards to reduce climate pollution, as well as clear protections for climate and other environmental policies.
We must organize and unite all Americans around this common purpose. I’m the only candidate in this field who will make this commitment and mean it.

Public Health & Consumer Safety
Q: Would you oppose trade agreements that delay access to affordable, generic medications by providing drug firms extended monopoly rights — such as requirements that signatory countries lock-in lengthy patent terms, provide data or marketing exclusivity, enforce trade secrets for pharmaceutical companies and/or broaden the scope of patentability?

Biden — DID NOT ANSWER
Bloomberg — DID NOT ANSWER
Buttigieg — DID NOT ANSWER
Gabbard — DID NOT ANSWER
Klobuchar — DID NOT ANSWER
Sanders — YES
Steyer — YES
Warren — YES

Q: Would you insist that trade agreements only allow imported foods, toys and other products to enter the United States if they actually meet U.S. safety standards?

Biden — DID NOT ANSWER
Bloomberg — DID NOT ANSWER
Buttigieg — DID NOT ANSWER
Gabbard — DID NOT ANSWER
Klobuchar — DID NOT ANSWER
Sanders — YES
Steyer — YES
Warren — YES

Q: Would you require trade agreements to explicitly allow for the restoration of the Country-of-Origin (COOL) meat-labeling program passed by the U.S. Congress and affirmed by U.S. courts, but struck down by the World Trade Organization (WTO)?

Biden — DID NOT ANSWER
Bloomberg — DID NOT ANSWER
Buttigieg — DID NOT ANSWER
Gabbard — DID NOT ANSWER
Klobuchar — DID NOT ANSWER
Sanders — YES
Steyer — YES
Warren — YES

Partial Written Responses on Public Health & Consumer Safety:

Bernie Sanders: Bernie has long fought to eliminate rules in our trade deals that increase the cost of medicines. Any trade deal Bernie signs will lower the cost of prescription drugs…. One of the reasons that Bernie opposed Trump’s NAFTA is because it did not require strong country-of-origin labeling.

“Fast Track” & Trade Policymaking
Q: Would you oppose efforts to reestablish “Fast Track” trade promotion authority when it expires?
Biden — DID NOT ANSWER
Bloomberg — DID NOT ANSWER
Buttigieg — DID NOT ANSWER
Gabbard — DID NOT ANSWER
Klobuchar — DID NOT ANSWER
Sanders — YES
Steyer — YES
Warren — LEFT “YES”/”NO” FIELDS BLANK (written response below)

Q: Would you support strengthening Congress’ role in trade policymaking by replacing Fast Track with a new trade authority mechanism that includes congressionally-set readiness criteria to determine appropriate negotiating partners and the right for Congress to veto partners proposed by the executive branch; involvement for more congressional committees and a transparent negotiating process; binding obligations regarding what must and must not be in future trade agreements; and the right for Congress to vote on an agreement before it can be signed?

Biden — DID NOT ANSWER
Bloomberg — DID NOT ANSWER
Buttigieg — DID NOT ANSWER
Gabbard — DID NOT ANSWER
Klobuchar — DID NOT ANSWER
Sanders — YES
Steyer — YES
Warren — YES

Partial Written Responses on “Fast Track” & Trade Policymaking:
Bernie Sanders: Bernie is proud to have led the fight against “Fast Track” in Congress. The continuation of “Fast Track” pushed by multinational corporations, pharmaceutical companies and Wall Street – will mean a continuation of disastrous trade policies which have cost our country millions of decent-paying jobs. Bernie will end “Fast Track” once and for all… Congress must have a meaningful impact on trade negotiations with clear and binding legal mandates. We must reassert Congress’s constitutional authority “to regulate commerce with foreign nations.”

Elizabeth Warren: The congressional approval process will offer more opportunities for the public and elected representatives to shape trade agreements. I will seek expedited congressional approval of trade agreements only when all of the regional advisory committees I’ve proposed creating and the labor, new consumer, and new rural advisory committees unanimously certify that the agreement serves their interests. I will also expand the list of congressional committees that must review any agreement before it is eligible for expedited consideration.