Pappas: Trump Needs to Open Trade Talks with China

Oct 26, 2018

Pappas at an NHPR candidate forum earlier this month
Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

First District Congressional candidate Chris Pappas says the current trade war with China is putting American businesses at risk, and President Trump needs to open talks instead of imposing tariffs.

Morning Edition host Rick Ganley spoke with Pappas on foreign relations and trade.

Morning Edition is speaking will all Congressional candidates this week.

I want to talk first about immigration. What kind of immigration reform would you support in Congress?

I think there's bipartisan support today for major pillars of what could comprise immigration reform. We've seen legislation proposed in the past. We've seen some false starts on this. It's very clear that we need to have a sober discussion about how we reform or immigration laws. I believe it needs to start with border security, ensuring that we invest in manpower and in technology along our border to keep this country safe. We need to create a fair and orderly process for people to be able to apply for asylum and safe refuge in this country. And I think we also need to allow the dreamers who know no other country than the United States of America, who are brought here as children, to be able to become citizens of this country. They're here. They're contributing. They should have a future in the U.S.

Well given the current political climate over this issue, Republicans have said quite consistently we're not talking about shutting the doors. We're talking about reforming immigration. We're talking about securing our borders. What kind of deal do you think could happen in Congress?

There's bipartisan support for border security and it doesn't need to include a wall. That's just a nonsensical idea that doesn't really work. I think if we invest in technology and manpower, that's the way we'll keep our border safe. But we also need to understand that there are individuals who are here within our own state that have had their status questioned by this administration, including Indonesian Christians that I've met in Dover and Somersworth who have been threatened with deportation to a country that would persecute them, where their lives and safety would be in danger.

New Hampshire has seen an increase in the presence of federal and ICE officials with regular checkpoints along I-93, especially over holiday weekends. Do you believe those checkpoints have been effective?

New Hampshire is located entirely within the 100 mile distance from our border and our coastline. I think that distance needs to be reduced. I don't believe that anywhere in New Hampshire you should be asked for your papers. I think we should be able to respect people's constitutional rights while keeping this country safe. And we shouldn't be setting up checkpoints willy nilly and hassling people who are on their way to the mountains or on their way to work when it really doesn't intersect with keeping our borders safe. So I would reduce that distance to 25 miles. I think that makes a lot more sense and would focus on where our law enforcement can add the most value.

I want to turn your attention to trade if we could. Trade with Canada [is] deeply embedded in New Hampshire's economy. What do you believe needs to be done to improve our trade relationship with our northern neighbor right now?

We've been hurt by the tariffs that have been slapped on goods coming into this country. Businesses have seen their costs escalate. I talked to a solar company that said the cost of their panels have gone up 40 percent. There are companies that have lost customers altogether because of the tariffs. So I believe we need a more calm and rational strategy. I think the negotiations around NAFTA have produced an agreement that is workable and that I think takes us in the right direction. And I think we should always be looking for more calm and collected trade talks as opposed to a really haphazard system of tariffs that creates uncertainty and makes business more expensive for New Hampshire companies and also for consumers.

What about the president's assertion that look this could be some short term pain here, but you know things were unbalanced. Trade was not fair, and we're addressing it.

There are indications that China has been ripping the U.S. off in terms of our intellectual property. And there are reasons for us to reopen negotiations with countries from around the world who are pushing unfair trade practices that are hurting America's economy and American businesses. And I think that's always the right thing to do, and I would encourage this administration to open up trade talks with China as a way to work through those disagreements.

Since the alleged killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudi government, there have been talks in Congress about U.S. sanctions against Saudi Arabia. Is that something you could support?

I think they are warranted in this case, because we have a government in Saudi Arabia that killed an American journalist who wrote for The Washington Post. And it's concerning to me that our administration wasn't willing to stand up to them at the beginning when the news came out and when the intelligence was pretty clear who was responsible for this. The U.S. should always be a beacon of democracy, of human rights, of free speech, of a free press to the rest of the world. And I believe that has been compromised under this administration. We shouldn't be trusting the Saudi regime simply because we sell a lot of arms to them. We need to talk tough to our friends and our enemies alike when it's very clear that they've been involved in acts of violence against journalists or anyone else in the world. So I think we should look at ways to get to the bottom of exactly what's transpired. And I think sanctions and a reduction in arms sales should be on the table as a way to ensure that Saudi Arabia cleans up its act.