For Immediate Release
AUGUSTA - State Rep. Bernard Ayotte has been appointed to the Citizen Trade Policy Commission (CTPC) during this legislative session, putting him in position to help analyze the impact of international trade agreements on the Maine workforce.
Rep. Ayotte (R-Caswell), a third-term legislator, said he is honored by the appointment. "I look forward to voicing my concerns and making policy recommendations to protect Maine's jobs and business environment from the negative impact of trade agreements," he said.
"International trade policies are complex and developed through long negotiations at the national level," he said. "Currently, they are negotiated without meaningful participation of the states. Consequently, in seeking to open trade opportunities, they can affect state sovereignty and regulatory authority."
The CPTC was established by the Legislature in 2003 to provide an ongoing, state-level mechanism to assess the effect of international trade policies and agreements on the state's laws, working conditions and business climate. Through the commission, citizens and legislators can express their concerns and complaints and design policy recommendations to mitigate the negative impact of trade agreements on the Maine economy.
"Free trade is a good thing overall," Rep. Ayotte said, "but it must be fair trade, and too often it is not. In 2009 we had a trade deficit of $380 billion, and this past January the deficit was $46 billion. The United States got where it is today by making things and exporting them to the world - that's how you create wealth. But since the 1970s we have moved from trade surpluses to trade deficits. We've lost millions of manufacturing jobs by trying to compete against low-wage countries.
"These are bad trends for our overall national competitiveness," he said, "and they've been made worse by some poor trade deals we have cut. In my view, first and foremost, we must look after the economic well-being of our own country and American citizens."
The CTPC has 17 voting members, including three state representatives and three state senators. Other members include a small business owner, a small farmer, a representative of a Maine-based corporation active in international trade and the Maine attorney general. Others, appointed by the Legislature's presiding officers, include a Maine-based manufacturer, a member of a nonprofit human rights organization, an environmentalist and a person who is active in the organized labor community.
The trade policy panel meets at least twice a year and files an annual report about the impact of international trade agreements on Maine's state laws, municipal laws, working conditions and business environment. ###
Maine House Republicans
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