Free Trade: Will The US Lead?
Leadership Needed On Free Trade
The Obama administration has several opportunities to make headway on ring free trade and economic freedom, but achieving real progress will require using some political capital.
“The business community hopes this will be the case, but remains skeptical that the Administration has not only the intellectual drive but also the political muscle to deliver a ‘next generation agreement,’ given the strength of the protectionist and anti-trade wing of the Democratic party and the Administrations relatively lackluster trade policy track record over the first term.”
Free trade was not a priority in Obama’s first term, however a conspiracy of events have moved trade to the forefront, says Edward Alden in World Policy Review.
“Collectively, these agreements could produce the biggest negotiated liberalization of trade since the early 1990s, when the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Uruguay Round of world trade negotiations were completed. These new moves are not the result of any grand strategy by the United States or any other country, but instead are the flowering of initiatives that have either been under consideration or moving forward slowly for many years,” he suggests.
Administration Takes Steps To Liberalize Trade In Services
US Trade Representative Ron Kirk kick-started movement toward opening up trade i services on Tuesday by officially informing Congress of the Administration’s intent to enter into negotiations on the International Services Agreement (ISA).
In his letter, Kirk said that if “business services achieved the same export potential as manufactured goods globally, U.S. exports could increase by as much as $800 billion.”
Is There A Future For The WTO On Global Trade?
The Doha Round of trade talks has reached a stalemate leaving some to question the WTO’s commitment to expanding global free trade. Further raising doubts about the future of WTO’s role in fostering open trade borders is the willingness of individual nations to engage in multilateral talks formulating their own trade blocs.
“The big question is this: does the WTO retain its centrality in the trading system? It’s down to the next WTO head,” Simon Evenett, a professor of international trade St Gallen University, tells CNBC.