President Obama's New Auto Industry Trade Agreements Raise Concerns

| by Sean Kelly

President Barack Obama visited Michigan on Jan. 7 to preview portions of his State of the Union address in front of workers at a Ford Motor Co. plant in Wayne, near Detroit.

“America's resurgence is real,” Obama told the crowd of about 750 after touring the factory. The President touted his bailout of the auto industry as a success, though it was largely unpopular in Michigan and other parts of the country, noted Reuters.

“Betting on you was the right thing to do. That bet has paid off for America,” he said. “The jobs in the auto industry have always been about more than a paycheck. They’re a source of pride.”

With Obama pushing for new trade agreements, not everyone in Michigan welcomed his visit warmly. Local advocates maintain that a Korean free trade agreement, according to Reuters, has helped the auto industry “significantly more than the U.S. sector.” Critics worry a new free trade agreement like the 12-country agreement Obama is working towards in the Asia-Pacific could “hurt manufacturing jobs like those in the resurgent auto industry.”

“I have grave concerns about trade policy and the implications for our manufacturing base,” Michigan Rep. Dan Kildee said. “I think (Obama) will find that many in Detroit share the concern that I've articulated that these trade agreements ... often have the effect of undermining the core of our economy, which I think is manufacturing.”

Obama reportedly did not discuss trade during the speech. His State of the Union address will be delivered on Jan. 20 in front of the new, Republican-controlled Congress.

Sources: Reuters, Bloomberg / Photo Credit: AP