BANGOR, ME - U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk joined Congressman Mike Michaud to visit with workers at Verso Paper's Bucksport mill to hear how U.S. trade policy has affected Maine's paper industry. The two were then joined in Bangor at noon by state officials, agriculture and aquaculture representatives, forest products representatives, trade and manufacturing experts, and workers affected by trade for a roundtable discussion on how trade policy can be improved so that it helps, not hurts, Maine.
"I am glad that Ambassador Kirk had the opportunity to hear directly from Mainers," said Michaud. "I think the message he got was clear. While we appreciate the Obama Administration's focus on increasing exports, it is not a complete strategy. Our businesses and our workers can't truly get ahead unless there is a level international playing field. Our current trade policy is failing them. But we have an opportunity to promote meaningful reform by pursuing a new trade model that boosts prosperity and security at home and around the world. I am hopeful that the Administration listens to the Mainers hurt by trade and stops pursuing more NAFTA-style trade deals."
The effects of trade on Maine's economy can, in part, be measured by examining the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, which helps workers who have lost their jobs as a result of increased imports or a shift of production outside of the U.S. According to the U.S. Department of Labor that administers the TAA program, over just the past two years, 57 TAA certifications in Maine were made, covering about 3,500 workers.
"The TAA certifications in Maine are just the latest proof that our nation's trade policy continues to hurt our state's economy," said Michaud. "And those figures don't take into account the negative economic ripple effects on other businesses and communities throughout Maine. I hope Ambassador Kirk takes his experiences and the stories he's heard here in Maine back to Washington. They will help him understand what changes need to be made to our trade policy so that it promotes and protects Maine's manufacturing and its agriculture equally."
During the roundtable, Jim Gardner, town manager of Ashland, brought up the issue of the 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement with Canada. Ambassador Kirk said that his office is very close to making a decision on the Softwood Lumber Agreement, after over eight months of examining it.
"Enforcement is a key component of making sure our trade policy works for our businesses and workers," said Michaud. "The decision shouldn't be delayed further. The final determination on softwood lumber must force all Canadian provinces to comply with the agreement and provide relief to American forest industry workers."
In Congress, Michaud is the Chairman of the House Trade Working Group (HTWG), which is a group of lawmakers that advocates for fair trade policies. They have been working to promote a new trade model that focuses on the need to shift trade policy so that it benefits American workers and businesses. A key initiative that the HTWG is pushing is Michaud's Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment (TRADE) Act. Currently, 147 members of Congress are supporting Michaud's bill, signaling to congressional leaders and the White House that a new trade policy has substantial support. Additional information on the TRADE Act can be found here.
Michaud Statement on Thomas Delahanty's Swearing In as U.S. Attorney for Maine
- "I have no doubt that he will capably lead the office of U.S. Attorney with the utmost integrity. Tom is highly qualified for this position and has a vast amount of experience. After graduating from the University of Maine School of Law, Tom worked as a District Attorney for Androscoggin, Franklin, and Oxford counties. He has also served as a Justice and Chief Justice for the Maine Superior Court. He even served in the very office that he has now been confirmed to lead.
- "Tom's vast experience exemplifies his dedication to protecting and promoting the well-being of Mainers and all Americans. Tom is an expert in his field and has a proven track record. It is not difficult to see how he has gained the respect of his peers in Maine and around the country. The combination of his professional experience, organizational leadership and temperament makes me confident that he will serve our state with distinction. I know that I join the entire Maine congressional delegation in wishing Tom all the best."
Michaud worked with Congresswoman Chellie Pingree to forward Delahanty's name to President Obama for his consideration for the position.