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
The Big Lie: The Trade Balance and Trade Agreements›By John Murphy // Friday, March 20, 2015
As noted recently in the Nelson Report — a newsletter reporting on economic and trade developments in the Asia-Pacific region — trade critics in recent weeks have repeatedly shown they are “perfectly happy to use the ‘big lie’ technique” in a “re-cycle of many already discredited arguments.”
Nowhere is this more evident than with regard to the trade deficit and trade agreements.
This is curious because the trade balance is a poor measure of whether any particular trade policy is successful or whether a nation is prospering. In recent decades, the U.S. trade deficit has expanded during periods of vigorous economic growth and job creation (e.g., the late 1990s) and contracted during times of economic distress (e.g., the 2008-2009 financial crisis).MORE
Negotiators Must Say “Aloha” to a 21st Century Trade Deal›By Jay Taylor // Thursday, March 12, 2015
This week, chief negotiators from the 12 Pacific Rim countries currently negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement are gathering in Hawaii to continue deliberations surrounding this revolutionary trade pact, which will comprise 40 percent of global GDP once completed. The TPP, which is being hailed as a 21st Century trade deal, will reduce trade barriers among the 12 nations, which include the U.S., Canada, Japan and several countries in Southeast Asia, Australasia and South America. With 95% of the world’s consumers living outside the U.S., the TPP presents the perfect opportunity for the U.S. to capitalize on the burgeoning Asia-Pacific market as well as increase U.S. exports and job opportunities for American workers.MORE
U.S. Agriculture Interests Getting Grouchy in Trade Debates›By Gawain Kripke // Thursday, March 5, 2015
Is it just me, or is there a new, more combative tone coming from US agriculture interests in recent days? The focus of their attack is other countries, namely countries to which US exports to and countries with which the US competes.MORE
The Obama Trade Agenda: Five Things for Progressives to Like›By Ed Gerwin // Friday, February 27, 2015
The Administration has already been aggressively pursuing the most ambitious set of trade agreements in decades—including potentially groundbreaking deals with 11 Asian-Pacific countries (the Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP), and the European Union (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or T-TIP), as well as agreements in key sectors like services, information technology, and environmental products.
Now, to set the stage for eventual Congressional approval for these deals, the President has launched an Administration-wide effort to obtain Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) from Congress. Under TPA, Congress sets detailed priorities and extensive consultation requirements for U.S. trade negotiators, and agrees to follow special expedited procedures for agreements that meet these rules.MORE
TPP and Access to Medicines›By Ruth Lopert // Friday, February 27, 2015
As yet another round of Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) negotiations concluded in New York recently a Washington Post editorial glibly dismissed persistent and growing community concerns on the agreement’s potential impact on the cost of access to medicines. The Post’s scorn went so far as to describe claims that US’ efforts to, as it put it, ‘protect the pharmaceutical industry’s intellectual-property rights and commercial interests’ could result in higher drug prices and lower access, as mere ‘hype’.
Let’s unpack this a bit. First of all the US is not seeking to protect pharma’s IP rights, but rather, to expand them substantially, well beyond standards accepted and agreed (including by the US) under the TRIPS agreement. But to date, no one has successfully argued the case as to why the pharmaceutical industry needs even greater protections than those conferred by TRIPS, and moreover, claims that expanding IP rights are either useful or necessary for future ‘innovation’ have never been substantiated. By contrast, there is plenty of evidence of the actual harms of expanded IP protections, and potential impacts are readily modeled. [See note at end of this blog for key references on the impacts of expanded IP protections.]MORE
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