Need to Get Trade Policy and Process Right …. Time is Running Out.

Free Trade Agreements


     The New York Times today in a lengthy editorial  criticizes the administration’s trade negotiations — both substance and process. It’s both correct and not so correct. Here’s my take.
….. Agree. The process is overly secretive. It’s reliance on industry advisory committees to the USTR is too exclusive in favor of large multinationals at the expense of public interest groups
….. Agree. If done correctly these new trade agreements (TPP and TTIP) would improve the global trading rules.
….. Agree. Need to ensure more benefits from global trade for workers here.
….. Agree. The main areas of  focus should be on enforceable environmental, intellectual property rights, and labor standards.
.. Disagree. The position that foreign investors should not be given standing to contest directly foreign government action is really wrong. (“Investor-State Dispute Resolution” clauses — ‘ISDR’.) The advances made over the last 50 years to allow such actions are historically significant. Procedures have been widely used to allow such actions including those of the World Bank (ICSID), bilateral investment treaties and the U.S. Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. Investment and trade are deeply inter-related. Trade agreements need to be upgraded to recognize this essential fact today.
.. Disagree. The position that currency manipulation is the biggest culprit in global trade today is really a stretch. The rules of the WTO do not adders this issue. This is a particular currency and financial issue that should not be included in a trade agreement. The larger issues are technology and globalization.
     Time is running out for the administration. It has announced great plans but so far has delivered little as to developing new trading rules and trade agreements.The president needs to be aggressive and transparent to implement his trade policy. The buy-in by the Congress and the American people are essential. This would lead to good law and good trade policy.


…… “This Time, Get Global Trade Right.” New York Times (April 20, 2014).

About Stuart Malawer

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