Wednesday, January 27, 2010

State of the Union: Trade

President Obama devoted two paragraphs to US trade policy in his State of the Union address tonight:
[W]e need to export more of our goods. Because the more products we make and sell to other countries, the more jobs we support right here in America. So tonight, we set a new goal: We will double our exports over the next five years, an increase that will support two million jobs in America. To help meet this goal, we’re launching a National Export Initiative that will help farmers and small businesses increase their exports, and reform export controls consistent with national security.

We have to seek new markets aggressively, just as our competitors are. If America sits on the sidelines while other nations sign trade deals, we will lose the chance to create jobs on our shores. But realizing those benefits also means enforcing those agreements so our trading partners play by the rules. And that’s why we will continue to shape a Doha trade agreement that opens global markets, and why we will strengthen our trade relations in Asia and with key partners like South Korea, Panama, and Colombia.
I've already stated my many concerns re: a recovery strategy based on manufacturing exports, and while I certainly give the President credit for sounding kinda supportive of the pending FTAs and the WTO's Doha Round, his craptastic 2009 efforts in these areas (and others!) belie any new and real commitment to their success.  I'd be thrilled to see his 2010 agenda prove me wrong, but considering that President Obama's 2009 trade agenda also expressed support for pending FTAs and the Doha Round, I'd say that a hefty dose of skepticism is warranted.

More broadly, the President's words revealed an unflinchingly mercantilist worldview - exports are good, imports are bad, full stop - but this archaic, self-defeating outlook is also nothing new, so it's not like tonight's speech gave me any reason to get all worked up on a school night.  (He also repeated the tiresome pablum about ending tax breaks for "companies that ship our jobs overseas," and that's similarly out of touch with economic reality.)

In sum: same old, same old.  My 2010 predictions remain unchanged.

No comments: