Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wednesday Quick Hits

A few interesting things worth noting before getting to spicier fare:
  • Brazil delays... again.  According to BNA (subscription), Brazil announced Monday that it will delay a final list of US exports that will face retaliatory tariffs because of the United States refusal to reform its cotton subsidy programs in conformity with a long line of adverse WTO decisions.  This is the latest in a series of delays for the retaliation, and whether Brazil will ever finally impose the sanctions is uncertain.  The final list is now supposed to be released on March 8th.  We shall see.  For more information on the US-Brazil dispute and its implications, check out this recent piece that I co-authored with with Daniella Markheim of the Heritage Foundation.
  • Protectionist rhetoric as email auto-reply. One of the constant themes of this blog is how attempts to "sell trade" through a mercantilist, exports-only trade policy will inevitably backfire because anti-trade groups will immediately respond by pointing out the US trade deficit (exports minus imports) as crystal clear evidence that America is "losing at trade."  Well, I noted Monday that the United States' 2010 Trade Policy Agenda took the mercantilist tack and then warned of "the deleterious effects on the American trade debate of an "exports-good-imports-bad" approach to trade policy."  And, like clockwork, the anti-trade group Global Trade Watch teed off on the White House's softball by - you guessed it - screaming about how the US trade agenda "continues to mimic the misrepresentations that the Bush administration borrowed from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with respect to only considering the role of exports on U.S job creation, as if the U.S. did not have a massive job-killing trade deficit. An example is the hilarious statement about 10 million U.S. jobs being supported by exports in 2008 – a year we had a $696 billion deficit – without any reference to the net U.S. jobs effect of the flood of imports underlying that deficit."  How USTR Ron Kirk actually plans to "ensure broad support among the US public for new trade proposals" by using this misguided exports-only strategy is beyond me. 
  • TPP under siege by the usual cast of characters.  Reuters reports that representatives of the US "dairy, sugar and textile sectors" are staking out their protectionist territory in advance of the first round of negotiations under the new Trans-Pacific Partnership framework.  I'm sure that you are just as shocked (shocked!) as I am at this development.

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