CNN Host: Obama's Anti-Free Trade Position 'Does Not Go Down Well' with Europe

     “[Europe] wants to see an [American] president committed to free trade,” cautioned CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour from Berlin, Germany, the site of a speech by presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama.

     Amanpour pointed to Obama’s wanting to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement as a problem for the Illinois Senator in Europe on the “CNN Newsroom” broadcast July 24.

     “But let me tell you a word of caution. The European top trade official for instance has said, ‘Listen Barack Obama quit that crowd pleasing rhetoric and get serious for instance on the issue of trade.’ You know Barack Obama as a candidate has talked about renegotiating NAFTA. Well, that does not go down well in Europe, which believes in internationalism and globalism, in globalization,” said Amanpour on the morning broadcast.

View As Web Page

     Amanpour also restated in the online version of the story that the top EU trade official offered caution to Obama on NAFTA, saying that he needs to be serious about a “U.S. commitment to free trade and unfettered markets.”

     European conservative leaders like President of France Nicholas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have both embraced globalization as a part of policy.

     But Obama’s open criticism of NAFTA during the primaries has worried some Europeans about how he would treat trade with Europe.

     Obama campaigned against NAFTA before the Ohio primary and criticized Democratic presidential rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) in a speech of supporting the deal. quoted Obama February 19 attacking Clinton on NAFTA saying, “She says speeches don’t put food on the table. You know what? NAFTA didn’t put food on the table, either.”

     “Ten years after NAFTA passed, Senator Clinton said it was good for America,” Obama was quoted in the Associated Press  February 24 as saying. “Well, I don't think NAFTA has been good for America — and I never have.”

     The Associated Press also noted that Obama also said that attempts to repeal the trade agreement “would probably result in more job losses than job gains in the United States.”

     “NAFTA has been a huge boon to the United States as well as its trading partners to the north and south,” Washington Times columnist Helle Dale said March 12. “Between 1993 and 2006, imports from Mexico rose from $48 billion to $216 billion, and at the same time, exports from the United States rose from $52 billion to $156 billion.”

     Dale also echoed a call by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) that free trade and national security are interconnected.

     “Canadians, like Australians and Brits, are the most reliable U.S. allies in times of crisis. Mr. McCain is suggesting that if we tear up NAFTA after more than a decade, Canadians might not feel obligated keep their end of the bargain in Afghanistan.” 

     Amanpour also said, “A lot of people around the world are saying what we want to see is change from the United States. They really feel like they have gone through quite a trauma.”

     “And really if you look at polls around the world, America’s standing has plunged dramatically over the last eight years. And so what they’re looking for is a president, whoever it might be that could rebuild alliances that could engage in multilateral diplomacy instead of a go-it-alone policy, that will take the lead on the great issues that certainly Europe believes in. For instance: climate change, the environment, human rights,” she added.