Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Irony Watch: Fresh Off Shelving FTAs & Mexican Trucks, Obama Says Exports Are Key To US Recovery

In introductory remarks to yesterday's second meeting of his Economic Recovery Advisory Board, President Obama laid out his keys to America's economic recovery:
[W]e've got experts from a wide range of business sectors, and what we're going to talk about is, are there mechanisms that we can start putting in place where we see the kind of growth that used to characterize the U.S. economy -- export-driven growth, manufacturing growth, growth that pays high wages and provides high living standards for a broad-based middle class.
I'm happy to hear that the President mentions trade - albeit (mercantilistically) exports only - as an important part of the nation's future economic prosperity.  But I'd be a lot happier if his administration's first nine months didn't completely belie any such importance.  Indeed, since President Obama moved into the White House, exporters have pretty much gotten shafted.  For example:
  • pending free trade agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, Panama and South Korea - worth billions to US exporters in eliminated tariffs and new customers - have been shelved, and there's no timeline for their congressional passage;
  • the White House is sitting on a Transportation Department fix to the US ban on Mexican Trucks - costing exporters $2.4 billion in annual retaliatory tariffs - and administration officials have told affected American exporters that the deal won't implemented anytime soon;
  • US chicken and automobile exporters have been targeted by China in response to the President's politically-motivated decision to impose prohibitive tariffs on Chinese tire imports, and China has also used the 421 decision as an excuse to bag important sector-specific tariff elimination agreements in the WTO's Doha Round; and
  • the United States' lack of a negotiating mandate or clear commitments has further delayed overall Doha Round negotiations, despite the fact that a final agreement would lead to huge global gains for US agriculture, manufacturing and services exporters.
In all fairness, the White House did a good job last week negotiating a (probable) reopening of China's market to US pork exports, so they haven't been completely awful for exporters.

Just mostly awful.

And on balance, I think that even the staunchest supporters of the White House would have to concede that the President's actions since he took office provide no tangible indication that he truly considers exports to be a critical component of America's economic recovery.

At least not right now (or until certain domestic priorities are resolved).

1 comment:

LaurenM said...

Too true, too true.