Obama and Kerry — Foreign Policy and Economic Policy — Focus on More Rules and Free Markets?

Obama Inaugural Address (Jan. 2009)
     President Obama in his Inaugural speech declared that we must engage multilateral institutions and that we all, individuals, corporations and countries have rights and obligations. President Obama’s 2013 Inaugural Speech. He argues that all free markets need rules.
     At his  Senate confirmation hearing for Secretary of State Senator Kerry declared that foreign policy more than ever is economic policy. “Kerry Links Economics to Foreign Policy.” New York Times (Jan. 25, 2013).
      I  wonder if the next four years American foreign policy will see a greater emphasis on developing and enforcing national and global rules to ensure a thriving global marketplace. This focus would be via multilateral institutions and less through unilateral actions and would reflect core American values.
      This would be a good organizing principle.
     After all global politics needs to catch up with global commerce, where international trade and related financial issues are of paramount importance. There seems to be a disconnect between the level politics is conducted and business  is operated. This stands in stark contrast to the hyperconnectivity spurred on by the revolution in wireless, mobile technology and broadband at all levels of society globally.
     Here is one problem. Global trade and commerce is more globalized today than ever before, but trade agreements are being negotiated today more on a bilateral or regional basis (moving away from the Doha Round and multilateral negotiations). What should be done?
      Hopefully, the new Secretary of State will build upon Hillary Clinton’s legacy of commercial diplomacy and President Obama’s earlier pronouncements concerning trade and exports made during his first term. Let’s see what the President states in his forthcoming State of the Union message next month. U.S. foreign policy is directly connected to the economic well-being of the United States.

About Stuart Malawer

Distinguished Service Professor of Law & International Trade at George Mason University (Schar School of Public Policy).
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