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MIAMI 2017: Benefits of trade deals touted at symposium

MIAMI — Manufacturers have to make the benefits of free trade agreements more apparent.
 George Cooper (left), a partner at Forbes Tate Partners, J. Antonio Villamil, founder and principal of The Washington Economics Group, and Bill Yeargin, CEO of Correct Craft, were panelists at the mini-trade symposium.

George Cooper (left), a partner at Forbes Tate Partners, J. Antonio Villamil, founder and principal of The Washington Economics Group, and Bill Yeargin, CEO of Correct Craft, were panelists at the mini-trade symposium.

MIAMI — Manufacturers have to make the benefits of free trade agreements more apparent.

That was the message from experts at a mini-trade symposium spearheaded by the National Marine Manufacturers Association on the eve of the Miami International Boat Show.

“The losses of these free trade agreements are very specific,” said J. Antonio Villamil, founder and principal of The Washington Economics Group, U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce under President George H.W. Bush and later an adviser to Jeb Bush.

The gains are diffused, which makes them hard to measure, Villamil said.

As the United States pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, “obviously China is not going to miss the opportunity to step into the void here,” he said.

Economists seem worried about President Donald Trump’s plans to divert to bilateral agreements, as well as his leaving a void for China to fill.

Correct Craft CEO Bill Yeargin said the “emotion” around free trade is the biggest problem.

“I’ve never seen this amount of emotion around trade,” Yeargin said. “I’ve talked to two editors, and both have said they’ve seen very, very strong comments on articles they’ve run around trade. It’s gotten very emotional, and I would hope we could have a civil discussion, not just as an industry but as a country and look at the long term.

Read more about the topic in an upcoming issue of Soundings Trade Only magazine.

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