Bad News and Good News — ‘Fast Track,’ Int’l Tax, Bali and Regional Agreements.

        China and WTO      The bad news is that “fast-track” authority is running into trouble in the Congress. There is considerable hesitation in the Congress to extend it to President Obama. The good news is that the Congress has begun to address issues of international taxation, the Bali Ministerial seems to be on track, and writers are beginning to recognize the downside of more regional agreements at the expense of a multilateral approach via the WTO. There is a growing need for inclusion not exclusion in the global trading system — especially as this relates to developing countries and China. Here are some of the specifics.
  • Obama’s trade agenda is in deep trouble. Seems that a bipartisan coalition is growing against it and against extending “fast track”  (TPA).  This is jeopardizing TPP and TTIP  negotiations. Interesting comments on the role of the Congress and the President in trade relations. “Obama’s  Trade Jeopardy.” Wall Street Journal (Nov. 19 2013).
  •  A new tax has been proposed to impose a one-time 20% tax on foreign earnings accumulated offshore by U.S. multinationals. “Baucus  Tax Proposal on U.S. Companies — U.S. Companies Split on Tax Plan.”   Wall Street Journal (11.20.13). 
  • A  watered down version of the Doha trade agenda may be adopted at the forthcoming Bali ministerial. The three main elements relate to trade facilitation,  agriculture and development. This would actually be a major success in light of the prior ten tears or so of negotiations and fear of  failure. The adoption of these new trade rules would remove the fear  to a certain extent that he WTO was becoming irrelevant.             “WTO on Verge of Global Trade Pact.Financial Times  (11.22.13).
  • Good  review of the movement away from military issues to trade issues as the principal dimension of power in international relations today. It reviews three ongoing trade negotiations (TPP, TTIP, EU-China),            in light of current failure of Doha, as moving  away from multilateralism. (But pending agreements in the forthcoming Bali Ministerial may lessen this conclusion a bit.) It also discusses services negotiation and investment agreements along with negotiations over climate and  millennium development goals. It highlights that China has been a  big winner from the global economy and is sometimes viewed as a free-rider.   It concludes “Globalization without global rules may work     for a while but it will not last.” “From  Missiles to Trade — From Geopolitics to Geoeconomics.” Financial Times (Nov. 22, 2013).

About Stuart Malawer

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