On Thursday, America’s top trade official got together with a maine congressman at a shoe plant in Norridgewock, with a big international trade agreement in play, there’s a lot of stake for the folks who work there. The employees work everyday to produce american made athlete shoes.
They are the people who will be affected by the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade agreement, which could threaten the the current tariffs that help send american made products overseas for fair prices.
CEO of New Balance, Rob DeMartini, said “All we’re asking for is to be competitive, we don’t want a hand out, we don’t want an advantage, we just want a level playing field to make the best product we can.”
The US Ambassador of Trade, Ron Kirk, took a tour of the facility today and talked with employees the agreement affects.
“Hopefully that will stick with him when they move forward as they continue to negotiate this trade deal,” said US Congressman Mike Michaud.
The Ambassador says he understands how important it is for something to be American made.
“Trade should be a tool that supports job growth and manufacturing here in this country, rather than creating a perverse incentive to send it everywhere else,” said Kirk.
Workers believe trade can be good for our country, as long as the jobs stay right here.
Jeff Clair, who has been a
New Balance Employee for 5 years, said “The money stays in the US and the more companies that do that, the better off we’ll be.”
New Balance, which has 25% of its footwear coming from New England, is currently the only athletic shoe company manufacturing in the United States.