The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement would hurt American manufacturers, former Nucor Chief Executive Officer Dan DiMicco said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Friday.
Speaking from Charlotte, DiMicco said he is a “strong believer in exporting,” but that trade agreements are overly focused on pushing out exports, can create unnecessary import costs and fail to consider that the U.S. could rely more on domestically produced goods.
“When we negotiate free trade agreements, we are lousy at it,” DiMicco said. “They are dominated by folks that have a predominant benefit from getting more exports into the world as opposed to having balanced trade, which is good for all Americans.”
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The U.S. trade deficit keeps growing, DiMicco continued, because the deck is stacked against American exporters.
“We totally ignore the fact that we have the largest market in the world and should be able to focus on producing things here for that market, not allowing trade cheaters who manipulate the system to dominate and destroy our middle class and manufacturing sector,” DiMicco said.
The trade pact between the U.S. and other Pacific Rim nations would eliminate taxes on American exports. Supporters of the TPP, including the Obama administration, say current export taxes prevent companies in North Carolina and beyond from doing business with countries like Australia, Mexico and Japan. The pact, they say, would be a boon for manufacturers and banks alike.
Opponents, including some North Carolina congressional leaders from both parties, have voiced concern about the pact’s impact on jobs. Others note that the deal doesn’t cover currency manipulation, which can create an unfair trade advantage for importers.
Congress is not expected to vote on the TPP until next year.
DiMicco has long been an outspoken supporter of domestic manufacturing, even in retirement. In his book “American Made” released last spring, the former CEO argues that investment in U.S. manufacturing will enable the U.S. to rebuild its crumbling infrastructure, become energy independent and fix the trade imbalance.
DiMicco retired from Charlotte-based Nucor in early 2013 after having served as CEO since 2000. Earlier this week, he was inducted into the North Carolina Business Hall of Fame.
Nucor, now led by John Ferriola, has also recently decried the influx of steel imports, which put pressure on its own steel prices and margins.