Guest Blog: TPP and TTIP Government Procurement Negotiations›By Jean Heilman Grier // Tuesday, September 16, 2014
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are free trade agreements (FTAs) that will include government procurement chapters. The goal of the TPP procurement negotiations, as in other FTAs, is relatively straightforward. It is to open comparable procurement among the TPP partners and develop rules to ensure that the procurement is conducted in a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory manner.
By contrast, the TTIP negotiations are more complex. They build on a deep, but often contentious, procurement relationship that has developed over nearly 35 years. To be successful, the TTIP will need to set a higher standard of procurement commitments than prior agreements, as well as address issues that have been around since the negotiation of the WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) during the Uruguay Round. Therefore, the procurement negotiations in the TPP and TTIP differ significantly.MORE
WTO Reform Misses the Point›By Bill Reinsch // Tuesday, September 9, 2014
The failure of the Doha Round and the hopefully temporary setback in implementing the Bali Trade Facilitation Agreement has once again raised questions about the World Trade Organization’s viability. Once we get past blaming India (correctly) for the most recent disaster, attention will inevitably turn to the question of whether the WTO is up to the task of reaching agreements on complex trade issues and, if not, how to “fix” it.
Focusing on institutional reform is an attractive road to go down politically. It allows governments to postpone, if not ignore, the real trade issues that divide them, and it allows them to place blame on the organization itself or, at worst, their predecessors who created it, rather than on themselves. Tempting though that is, however, it is ultimately self-defeating because it only postpones the day of reckoning when difficult trade issues will have to be dealt with. It is also a dead end.MORE
Ebola is a Humanitarian – and an Economic – Disaster›By Bill Krist // Thursday, September 4, 2014
Ebola has infected over 3,000 people in West Africa as of August 30, and the World Health Organization estimates that it could infect some 20,000 before it runs its course. There is no cure for this disease and more than half of the victims die a horrible death. The epicenter of the Ebola outbreak is the border between Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, three countries that lack the capacity to deal with such a crisis.
Ebola was first identified in 1976 in the Congo, and West Africa had never experienced the disease prior to this. Previous outbreaks had been in rural areas in Central Africa where it was possible to isolate and contain the virus, but this outbreak is threatening to spread to major cities – Monrovia, Conakry and Freetown – where its impact could be catastrophic.
Sierra Leone and Liberia were just starting to recover from terrible civil wars that finally ended just over a decade ago, and Guinea held its first democratic election in 2010. The future was just beginning to look better for these three countries; in fact, this year Sierra Leone’s economy had been projected to grow at a14% rate, and the economies of Liberia and Guinea were also starting to improve. But now the economic future of these three countries is dark. In fact, the Ebola crisis may affect the economic outlook for all of Africa.MORE
What is the Role of Our Trade Agreements in Growing Income Inequality in America?›By Bill Krist // Monday, September 1, 2014
Income inequality in America has rarely been greater than it is today. While income inequality has been growing around the world, it has been increasing particularly rapidly in the U.S. And it is a major reason for the sluggish recovery since the great recession of 2008.
How much of the increasing economic inequality is due to our trade agreements? Will our current negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership aggravate inequality? What should the U.S. do to address inequality?MORE
Guest Blog – TPP and Canada: Wishful Thinking on Supply Management?›By David N. Biette, Director, Canada Institute, Wilson Center // Tuesday, August 26, 2014
One of the many goals of multilateral trade agreements is to level the field so that companies, industries, and countries compete on the basis of market forces. This requires all participants to be willing to open their markets in protected sectors in exchange for better access to the markets of their trade partners. In order to get the benefits sought, each party to the negotiation has to give up something.
As Canada wraps up its Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the EU, it remains deeply involved in another very ambitious multilateral negotiation: the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Canada became an observer to the TPP negotiations in 2010, but did not become a full member until 2012 because New Zealand, one of the founders of the TPP negotiations, and the United States held up Canada’s request due to concerns about Canada’s supply management of dairy, poultry, and eggs, as well as the longstanding U.S. complaint about Canada’s lack of protection for intellectual property rights.
So when Canada and Mexico announced they would like to join the TPP negotiations, trade observers asked out loud if Canada would be willing to disband its supply management. Accession to the negotiations meant accepting the rules at the time of accession, and New Zealand, having liberalized its dairy industry over the last decade or so, was not about to give Canada a pass on supply management.MORE
Guest Blog: Opening Foreign Procurement Markets Amid Domestic Preferences›By Jean Heilman Grier // Monday, August 18, 2014
In 1981, the United States implemented its first international procurement agreement. Since then, opening foreign procurement markets for American goods, services and suppliers has been a consistent objective of U.S. trade policy. Through pursuit of this objective, the U.S. has gained access to government procurement in 57 countries or economies — 42 WTO members covered by the WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) and another 15 countries under free trade agreements (FTAs). The U.S. aims to further open procurement markets in negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and accessions to the GPA.MORE
Guest Blog: GSP and labor rights in Bangladesh›By Sanchita B. Saxena // Monday, August 11, 2014
April 2014 marked the one-year anniversary of the deadliest garment factory accident in history. 1,129 people died when an eight-story building, Rana Plaza, collapsed in Savar, a sub district of Dhaka. Since the disaster, leading brands in the United States and Europe have signed two historic agreements that were supported by labor groups and various NGOs. These agreements are designed to institutionalize changes in the garment industry by making the brands a part of the solution and holding them accountable for critical improvements. The disaster also exposed the international community to the complex and nebulous web of subcontracting prevalent in the industry in Bangladesh.
Since the disaster, the US has suspended the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) benefits with Bangladesh. The US administration has stated that the GSP decision is intended to improve factory safety and workers’ rights. Whether Bangladesh has made progress in these areas will be reviewed at the end of 2014. Though largely symbolic, since garments and textiles are not even covered by the GSP scheme, this suspension is designed to send a loud and clear message to the international community that the United States condemns labor right violations in Bangladesh. But this symbolic gesture does little to address the underlying causes of the problem and remains just that–symbolic–without any practical solutions to stand behind it.MORE
Guest Blog: U.S. Automakers Continue to Lead American Manufacturing›By Governor Matt Blunt // Monday, August 4, 2014
In an ever-shrinking world, a popular refrain among some skeptics is that American manufacturing is not competitive in the global economy. A new report by the American Automotive Policy Council (AAPC) reveals that is simply not the case. Led by Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, American manufacturing is on the rise, creating jobs and expanding opportunity at a rate that hasn’t been seen in years.
AAPC’s recently released “The State of the U.S. Automotive Industry 2014″, a report that comprehensively lays out the contributions of the American automakers to the U.S. economy. The annual study concluded that after a period of hard decisions, transformation and renewal, the American auto industry is roaring back. This means there are more American-made cars and trucks on the road, greater innovative technologies in American vehicles, and thousands of new American jobs for automakers and their suppliers.MORE
ISDS: A Sticky Issue in Both the TPP and TTIP›By Bill Krist // Thursday, July 31, 2014
U.S. proposals to include Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) in both the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreements have run into strong opposition. These provisions are important for encouraging foreign investment by ensuring a company that wishes to invest in a trade partner country that the investment will be protected against expropriation. Unfortunately, a few companies have used these provisions to stymie legitimate government actions to protect public health and the environment. Australia has led opposition to U.S. proposals in the TPP and Germany appears to be leading opposition in the TTIP.
So what is the way forward?MORE
Solar Power Trade War – What are the Implications?›By Samuel Benka // Monday, July 28, 2014
The Commerce Department issued a preliminary determination Friday that China is “dumping” solar panels in the U.S. market (i.e. selling these in the U.S. below their cost of production). This will likely mean that the U.S. will impose antidumping duties on these imports in the near future. This is the latest development in a long-running dispute between the U.S., which has been hoping to stimulate production in the U.S., and China, which has been heavily subsidizing its domestic industry, thereby suppressing development of solar industries in its trade partners.
What would increased U.S. tariffs on solar panels from China mean for the U.S. and worldwide?MORE