Policy Elites and Trade›By Robert Moran // Thursday, July 30, 2015
As soon as tomorrow, the Obama Administration may conclude the final round of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). These negotiations are taking place at time when free trade has gotten more attention than at any time since the passage of NAFTA. To better understand this environment, on behalf of WITA, Brunswick Insight conducted a survey of Beltway “Policy Elites” to understand how the most informed Republicans and Democrats view free trade in general and the ongoing trade negotiations.
The survey showed that in general, Policy Elites have a low awareness of the trade debate: it has been overshadowed by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and even recent events in Greece. Policy Elites in the Beltway are more supportive of free trade compared to the general population, but a majority of both Republicans and Democrats are not convinced that TPP will increase the number of jobs in the US. Despite the administration’s “Asia Pivot,” a slight majority of Policy Elites think an agreement with Europe is the most important deal for the US. Effective messaging will be critical for both TPP and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the EU (possibly focusing on consumer benefits.)MORE
The Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations: time to go for the gold›By Bill Krist // Wednesday, July 29, 2015
By: William Krist
On Tuesday, July 28, trade ministers from 12 countries will begin a four- to seven-day meeting in Hawaii to try to wrap up negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). If successful, the TPP would create a free trade area between the U.S., Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Brunei Darussalam, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Chile, and Peru. In addition to eliminating tariffs on trade among the 12 nations, the agreement will cover a host of issues including removing barriers to trade in services, opening up investment, and setting rules for a number of areas such as intellectual property protection and state-owned enterprises.
While the negotiations undoubtedly won’t be fully completed at this meeting, most observers expect substantial progress. After more than six years of negotiations, most issues have been resolved. Now there are only a few instances where trade ministers will have to make the final difficult decisions on trade-offs. Successfully concluding these negotiations is a top priority for President Obama, who sees this as an important part of his legacy.MORE
Boost Support for TPP by Rethinking ISDS›By Dan Pearson // Monday, July 27, 2015
President Obama’s approach to trade policy has not been particularly adroit. After running for office as a protectionist, he later decided to support freer trade, but never found a way to explain that shift to most of the Democratic Party. Passage of trade promotion authority (TPA) under difficult circumstances allows the administration to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but congressional approval of that pact should not be taken for granted.
This is not a time for hubris. Rather, serious efforts should be made to address TPP concerns that have been raised by reasonable critics. One of the most contentious provisions is “investor-state dispute settlement,” or ISDS. The president should act decisively to boost support for TPP by eliminating or modifying ISDS.MORE
What Obama’s Trade Agenda Means for the Rest of the World›By Alan Wolff // Monday, July 20, 2015
The Trans Pacific Partnership has the potential of restoring positive momentum to the world trading system. Negotiations for a massive trade deal involving countries accounting for nearly half of the world’s economic activity are expected to wrap up in Maui at the end of this month, where trade ministers from 12 Pacific Rim countries will seek to conclude talks that have stretched over the better part of the decade. Looking back, it’s easy to view negotiations of the Trans Pacific Partnership as an Obama legacy issue, and it is. But that is looking at it too narrowly; the trade deal is something important for us individually and for America’s role in the world. That is why a majority in Congress, heavily of the other Party, gave this President a negotiating mandate in the form of “trade promotion authority” – so that he could conclude these trade talks.
It is worth looking at what the whole of TPP is about, because while individual pieces of the agreement deserve attention, the whole is more important than the sum of its parts. No magnifying glass is needed to examine the broad strokes.MORE
A Primer on the Greek Crisis: The Things You Need to Know From the Start Until Now›By Anil Kashyap // Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Greece from the mid-1990s until last year was constantly spending more than it was collecting in tax revenues. For most of this time, the country’s initially reported numbers showed small differences that were subsequently found to have been much larger. The revisions tended to be most substantial right after elections when a new government would find that its predecessor was much more profligate than had been reported. Because of these deficits, the country borrowed to cover the shortfalls and its debt burden was steadily rising.
In the fall of 2009, a then newly elected government reported that the deficit for that year was going to be 13.6 percent of economic output and that the deficits in 2007 and 2006 were also larger than had been reported. From that point onward, the world began to wonder if Greece really could pay the debt that it had issued or needed to default. Its borrowing costs rose sharply and the country began looking for ways to reduce its required debt payments and end its borrowing addiction.
House Approves TPA; Re-Vote on TAA Expected After Initial Rejection›By John Murphy // Friday, June 12, 2015
House Approves TPA; Re-Vote on TAA Expected After Initial Rejection
In a dramatic and confusing set of events on the House floor, members of Congress rejected legislation to renew Trade Adjustment Assistance but then proceeded to approve Trade Promotion Authority by a bipartisan 219-211 vote.
Absent an affirmative vote on TAA by the House, the conjoined TPA/TAA bill cannot be sent to the president’s desk. However, following the failed TAA vote, Speaker Boehner moved to reconsider the motion.MORE
Imports Work for Development and Natural Disaster Recovery›By Marideth J. Sandler // Thursday, May 14, 2015
International trade fuels emerging-market development through growing a stable middle class, empowering women, and creating jobs and sustainable economies especially in remote communities and neighborhoods where the concepts of “hope” and “a good future” are rare commodities.
The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) has expanded U.S. imports from emerging markets – 2/3 of the world’s economies – since 1976. More recently, the Caribbean Basin Initiatives (CBI) and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) have provided even more opportunities for U.S. importers to source a wider variety of goods duty-free from nations in the Caribbean and Sub-Saharan Africa.MORE
What Would FDR Think of Today’s Trade Debate?›By Dan Pearson // Wednesday, May 6, 2015
When Franklin Roosevelt became president early in 1933, he not only inherited the economic meltdown left by the previous Republican administration, he also inherited their now-infamous trade policy. The former Republican chairmen of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees, Sen. Reed Smoot of Utah and Rep. Willis Hawley of Oregon, favored “protecting” the American economy by keeping out goods produced in other countries. The “Smoot-Hawley” Tariff Act of 1930 set import tariffs at their highest levels in over 100 years. Other countries retaliated by raising their tariffs, U.S. imports contracted, exports also sank, and total world trade plummeted. Smoot-Hawley generally is credited with serving to deepen and lengthen the Great Depression. Torpedoing international trade also proved not to be an effective political strategy. Neither Smoot nor Hawley was returned to office in the 1932 election.MORE
ISDS is All About Fair Play and American Values›By Linda Dempsey // Wednesday, April 29, 2015
From soccer matches in Europe to Monday Night Football in the United States, referees are a critical component of competitive sports, acting as an impartial party that ensures rules are followed by members of both teams. For small and large manufacturers, Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions fill this this critical role of referee, ensuring that basic rules of due process, non-discrimination, fair treatment and property protection. In short, ISDS ensures fair play in the global economy.
Manufacturers typically make the vast majority of their investments domestically. Yet, just as companies from Europe, Asia, Latin America and beyond invest in America to reach the American consumer, many U.S. manufacturers also need to invest overseas to sell more successfully to the 95 percent of consumers that live outside our borders. By reaching millions of new customers overseas, U.S. investment overseas helps strengthen America’s manufacturing base, spurring approximately 50 percent of U.S. exports and supporting higher-paying American jobs, R&D and capital investment. When companies investment overseas, some 90 percent of their sales stay outside the United States.MORE
Investor-State Dispute Settlement Promotes American Values›By Stephen M. Schwebel // Monday, March 23, 2015
U.S. investment protection treaties,which promote international investment while providing for protection of that investment, reflect our constitutional commitment to individual rights, further the resolution of disputes by rule of law, and guard against arbitrary government conduct. These reciprocal agreements are vital to the rules-based economic system but have been increasingly criticized by certain interest groups as posing a threat to legitimate government regulation. Some politicians appear to agree, arguing that the so-called investor-state dispute (ISDS) mechanism should be excluded from U.S. agreements now under negotiation with Europe and with countries of the Asia Pacific region.
Are the critics correct? Should the United States drop ISDS from its existing and projected trade and investment agreements? The answer must take into account the nature and scope of the rules enforceable through ISDS.MORE
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