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
WITA Membership Issue Poll 2015 Results›By Diego Anez // Thursday, February 19, 2015
WITA’s 2015 Membership Poll is the third in WITA’s polling series. The survey was conducted in December 2014 and January 2015, through an Internet-based survey limited to WITA members. Note that the poll respondents are self-selected, meaning that the results are not a scientific sample but an illustration of views held by especially active, interested and influential members of the Washington trade community.
Below offers a quick glance at the poll’s results. You may access the full results here.
Chairman Paul Ryan’s First Public Address on Trade›By Diego Anez // Thursday, February 5, 2015
WASHINGTON — Today, Chairman Paul Ryan delivered the following remarks at the Washington International Trade Association on his vision for expanded U.S. trade.
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Provided By United States House Ways and Means Committee
“Hi, everybody. I want to thank Steve for the introduction. And I want to thank all of you for joining us here today. As you know, this is my first time at WITA [Washington International Trade Association]. And this is a very distinguished crowd. I mean, the last time there were this many people talking about trade policy was when Brett Favre went to the Jets.
“I think trade is absolutely vital—because our jobs depend on it. Twenty years ago, trade supported one out of every ten of our jobs. Now it’s one out of every five. This is our future. And there’s no turning back—because we can’t create more jobs if we don’t get more customers. And 96 percent of the world’s customers live outside the United States. So the way I see it, we’re going global for the same reason the pioneers went west: because that’s where the opportunity is.MORE
5 Minutes with Robert Moran on the TransAtlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP)›By Diego Anez // Monday, February 2, 2015
From Ken Levinson, Executive Director of WITA:
A regular feature of this blog is what we call “5 Minute Interviews”. For these features, we will speak with leaders in the global trade and public policy community to get their thoughts on key issues facing global policy makers. Our latest interview is with Robert Moran, a Partner in the Brunswick group, who leads its insights function, Brunswick Insight.
Robert Moran is a pollster and expert on public opinion and leads Brunswick Insight, the Brunswick Group’s global research function. He frequently writes and speaks on public opinion and public opinion strategy and has appeared on CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera. He writes on public opinion at Huffington Post.
Five Minutes with Robert Moran Partner, Brunswick GroupMORE
Will Congress Give Obama Authority to Negotiate Trade Agreements?›By Bill Krist // Friday, January 23, 2015
President Obama called on Congress to give him authority to negotiate trade agreements in last night’s State of the Union address. This authority, commonly called Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) or Fast Track Authority, was last granted to the President in 2002, but that authority expired in 2007. Under our Constitution, authority to regulate foreign commerce rests with Congress, but since the 1930s Congress has periodically delegated authority for trade negotiations to the President in legislation that sets out the objectives and specific conditions for consultations.
Right now the U.S. is engaged in two monumental trade negotiations. The farthest along, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), involves eleven other nations, including Japan, Vietnam, and Malaysia. The objective of the negotiation is to almost completely eliminate trade barriers among the twelve countries and develop strong rules on investment, protection of intellectual property, practices of state-owned enterprises, and other issues. The other enormous trade negotiation, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), involves the European Union.MORE
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