[…] from President Ronald Reagan during his “Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session During a United States Chamber of Commerce Teleconference” on May 10, 1983:
I oppose the quick fix of trade protectionism, because we saw the nightmare that helped create in the 1930s. We and our trading partners are in the same boat. If one partner shoots a hole in the boat, it makes no sense for the other partner to shoot another hole in the boat. That’s not getting tough. It’s getting wet. And eventually it means sinking the boat that’s headed for greater growth and prosperity.
The same holds true for dead-end policies like the local content rule — legislation that would force those who sell cars in the United States, including domestic manufacturers, to build their cars with a rising share of U.S. labor and parts. As the Congressional Budget Office pointed out, this would destroy more jobs than it would create. It would add significantly to the cost of new cars and these costs of protecting one group of workers would be passed on to another group down the line whose jobs would then be jeopardized. It would violate our international commitment to the GATT.
Protectionism only opens the door to retaliation. We would buy less from our partners, they would buy less from us. The world economic pie would shrink and political tensions would multiply. The local content rule is a cruel hoax. We propose a positive approach. We want to enhance the ability of U.S. producers and workers to compete on a fair and equitable basis in the world marketplace.