Trade and Foreign Policy — Digital Protection, Trade Negotiations and Foreign Investment.

         Data Protection (FT 11.4..13)
 Very significant developments have occurred within U.S. trade policy and trade relations the last few weeks. They include a renewed push by the Obama administration to attract foreign investment into the U.S., the launching of renewed attacks by the U.S. on foreign firms engaged in global rate-fixing of LIBOR, and reactions against the U.S. concerning NSA spying in ongoing trade negotiations (TTIP). In addition the U.S. has won (at least unofficially so far) its WTO case against China involving its export restrictions on rare earths.
  • President Obama is about to mount a big push to bolster foreign investment in the U.S. “Obama to Bolster FDI in U.S.Financial Times (Oct. 28, 2013). 
  • Global banks are increasingly being held liable for both foreign-currency exchange manipulation  (Forex) and illegal LIBOR rate-setting. The U.S. Justice Dept. and antitrust authorities and others have been extremely active. (This is in addition to liability and criminal responsibility for domestic mortgage wrongdoing within the U.S. for U.S. banks.) “Days of Reckoning for Misconduct Mounts.Financial Times (Oct. 30, 2013). “Forex Probe Moves Across the Globe.” Financial Times (Nov. 3, 2013).
  • Eric Holder describes the importance of corruption investigations and asset recovery to new governments in the Middle East and Arab states. “Arab Forum and Asset Recovery.” USDOJ News (Oct. 28, 2013). 
  • It has been unofficially reported that a panel has decided against China in the Rare Earths case. “WTO Rules against China on Rear Earths Export Quotas.” Financial Times (Oct. 30, 2013).
  • New Dept. of Commerce first-ever conference on foreign investment in the U.S. (Obama Presentation Video 10.31.13). FDI or inward investment in the U.S. has been halved since 2008. In 2000 the U.S. received 37% of worldwide inward investment by 2012 the U.S. received only 17%. “U.S. Courts Foreign Investment for Economic Development.” Financial Times (Oct. 31, 2013). “Obama’s Bid to Investors Overseas.Washington Post (11.1.13). 
  • NSA spying is threatening trade negotiations with the EU over negotiating the TTIP agreement. This evidences in part the inter-relationship of national security policy, foreign affairs, and trade policies. The Germans (contrary to the EU Commission) want to introduce data protection provisions. Actually U.S. high-tech firms are in favor of more lenient “interoperability” approach as being less stringent than the EU Commission’s proposals generally. “Data Protection Rules Could Favor US Tech Giants.” Financial Times (11.4.13).

About Stuart Malawer

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