Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Let's Play "Spot the Trend"!

Hey kids, let's play a game! See if you can figure out the hidden message on US trade policy from the following excerpts of news stories, all from the last 24 hours or so:
  • Lawmakers Press White House On Auto Imbalance In S.Korea, Japan, Dow Jones. "Auto-industry allies on Capitol Hill urged the Obama administration on Friday to 'take all steps necessary' to further open the South Korean and Japanese markets to U.S. automobiles. ... In addition to Michigan's senators, the letter was signed by a bipartisan contingent of congressmen from Michigan and Ohio, as well as Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D., N.Y.), the House Ways and Means Committee chairman."
  •  U.S. Congressmen Urge Obama to Expedite FTA, JoongAng Daily.  "Many Democrats are concerned that giving the [US-Korea] deal a final nod would draw a backlash from trade unions - a political power base for the party - as fears mount over job losses amid the country’s worst recession in decades. The Obama administration is also focused on other priorities such as health care reform and the war in Afghanistan.  Jeffrey Bader, senior director for East Asian affairs at the National Security Council, said Friday that Obama needs to take political consideration in submitting the deal to Congress for approval.  'We want to ensure that the Korea FTA does provide access for U.S. automobiles to the Korean market,” he said. 'But the timing of when this can be done and what is politically seizable are very political.'"
  • Obama urged to fix trade policy vacuum, Financial Times. "Across the [Asian] region, concern is rising about the absence of US leadership on trade since Mr Obama took office. Few believe that he has the will or power to restart the Doha round of global trade talks – and he has not asked Congress for a renewal of the president’s fast-track negotiating authority. Fewer still believe that he will be able to ratify the landmark 2007 US-South Korea free-trade agreement in the face of strong hostility in Congress...  “It is really important to understand just how badly the US is screwing itself on trade,” said [PIIE's Fred] Bergsten. “By having an inactive trade policy, others are rushing to fill the vacuum.'"
  • China, US keen to avoid trade war: US official, AFP. "Tensions between [China and the United States] intensified late last week when the United States slapped anti-dumping tariffs of up to 99 percent on imports of some Chinese steel products used in the oil industry. ... The world's number one and three economies have traded a series of accusations of unfair trade practices since September when the Obama administration announced it would slap duties on Chinese-made tyres."
  • WTO's Lamy says U.S. slowing Doha talks: report, Reuters. "The U.S. is slow in reaching a negotiating position in the Doha round trade liberalization talks, the World Trade Organisation's Director General said in an Italian business daily on Tuesday. In an interview in Il Sole 24 Ore, Pascal Lamy said that after a year spent putting in place the new U.S. administration, next year's U.S. mid-term elections could prove a further problem in finalizing the Doha talks. 'The U.S. is proving to be slow in reaching a clear and articulated negotiating position... the problem is that in 2010 there will be mid-term elections,' he said in the interview."
  • Nafta: Benefits far outshine failings and spats, Financial Times. "So what is next? After all, it is no secret that many things were left out of the accord when it came into force in 1994. The free movement of labour and the energy sector are two obvious areas, but the list is long. Unfortunately however, the answer may be nothing – at least for the foreseeable future. In March, the US ended a pilot programme that allowed some Mexican trucks on to its highways.... As part of Nafta, the trucks are supposed to have unfettered access to transport routes north of the border, but that has not happened because of opposition from US unions and some lawmakers. Mexico called the US’s move an act of protectionism and a violation of treaty terms, and slapped the country with retaliatory tariffs on $2.4bn of export goods. The sanctions were one of the largest acts of reprisal against US goods."
  • FACTBOX-Trade deals in the Asia Pacific region, Reuters. "Seoul, which aims to become a hub for free trade agreements in Northeast Asia, has wrapped up a deal with European Union that is expected to go into effect next year.  However, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk has said Obama will not submit the South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement to Congress until Seoul agrees to more concessions to open its markets to U.S. autos and other exports. South Korea already has free trade deals with ASEAN, Chile and Singapore. It is negotiating with Australia, India, Japan, Canada, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Mexico and Peru."
  • U.S. Chamber Leaders Travel to Asia Calling for Trade Agreements, Manufacturing & Technology eJournal. "According to the U.S. Trade Representative, there are 168 free trade agreements in force in Asia today, up from only 22 in 1980. Eighteen more have been completed but not yet implemented and 70 more are being negotiated. However, the United States has only two FTAs with Asian countries: Singapore and Australia. 'We are standing on the sidelines while Asian nations clinch new trade deals,' [US Chamber Tom] Donohue said. 'We’ll pay the price if this continues. It’s time to see action from Washington.'"
  • U.S. Remains Committed to Trade, Top Official Says, WSJ. "The U.S. signaled its interest in joining the Trans-Pacific free trade bloc last year but has since put its negotiations on hold as the Obama administration reviews its trade policies. Mr. Kirk declined to indicate whether negotiations over U.S. participation would restart anytime soon. Mr. Kirk's participation at APEC comes amid growing skepticism in Asia and among some U.S. business leaders that the Obama administration remains committed to free trade there. There are more than 70 free trade agreements in Asia, and the U.S. is involved in only a handful, including a 2003 free trade pact with Singapore. Other deals that business leaders had been hoping for -- including free trade agreements with Thailand, South Korea and Malaysia -- have stalled and may struggle to regain momentum as the Obama administration focuses on health care and other issues.  'We're really losing our window in terms of ability to lead' on free trade in Asia,' said Steven Schrage, a trade expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, at a recent panel discussion in Washington."
OK, did you spot the trend?  It's realllllly difficult, I know!

(If you can't figure it out, you might not want to enter an occupational field that requires any level of reading comprehension.  Maybe a US Congressman or something.)

1 comment:

TradeAgreements.info said...

Hmmm, maybe that our trade policy is not moving forward as planned?