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Free Trade Agreement and Perot

June 12, 1993

* Ross Perot is trying to kill the North American Free Trade Agreement with the same type of misleading advertising that he was so critical of during his run for President. Perot, in his infomercial on May 30, offered no evidence that the American economy will collapse because of NAFTA.

Investment in Mexico will continue with or without NAFTA. To date, the Commerce Department attributes more than 650,000 jobs in this country to direct trade with Mexico. What industry or company in this country has created that many new jobs in the last five years?

The removal of trade barriers with Mexico over the next 12 years will result in an additional 171,000 jobs by 1995. What other industry in this country can create that many new jobs in the next 2 1/2 years?

Mexico is the second largest purchaser of California products, surpassing Japan and growing at an annual rate of 26%. What this has meant to California in the last five years is the creation of 61,300 jobs.

Locally, Los Angeles area ports handle 12% of all U.S. trade, with more than three-quarters of the total California trade with Mexico originating in or shipped through the Southland.

The Latin Business Assn. believes NAFTA is good for large businesses, small businesses and minority-owned firms.

ANA BARBOSA, President

Latin Business Assn., Los Angeles

* Hooray for Ross Perot! His blunt and fact-filled opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement makes clear that NAFTA, as currently written, will only hasten the loss of American jobs and our manufacturing base.

But Perot only defines the problem. For even without NAFTA, our nation is still losing manufacturing jobs. More must be done than simply defeating or amending NAFTA. We must 1) develop protectionist policies including tariffs against those nations which exploit labor and damage the environment and 2) strengthen labor rights at home and abroad.

This nation was not founded on "free trade." It was in fact founded upon and built with government intervention in large-scale enterprises, tariffs and support of labor (the latter in the early 20th Century to the early 1970s). All the successful nations in the last 30-40 years, from Germany and Japan to Korea and Taiwan, followed protectionist policies.

Don't listen to the cowards who say protectionism leads to a "trade war." The problem facing Korea and Mexico, for example, is that businesses refuse to pay workers the money to buy what they produce. They need our consumers to succeed. A tariff on goods from those nations will force them to raise their workers' wages to buy their goods. Under both current policies and NAFTA, we are all losing; the purchasing power of workers in both the U.S. and Mexico declined in the 1980s.

MITCHELL J. FREEDMAN

El Toro

* Regarding your editorial (May 29) about Ross Perot's opposition to the NAFTA, I have to disagree. This is about the only thing I agree with the little mean-spirited, jug-eared demagogue on.

The only way I could support NAFTA is if companies that move factories down to Mexico or anywhere in the world are forced to pay their workers at least 80% of the union wage scale of the U.S.

As for Perot's other ideas only the reform of lobbying and campaign financing get any support from me. I think the man is another Hitler just looking for a place to happen.

DAN OLIVIER

Riviera, Ariz.

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