Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Trade Trouble Ahead

I've written a few times about Obama's ambivalent-at-best position on trade, warning that Obama's poor choice of US Trade Representative and "re-open NAFTA", "Buy USA" and "protect labor standards" rhetoric threatened to ignite a trade war.

Well, today's Obama's choice for USTR, former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk, won approval from the Senate. Meanwhile, Mexico announced that it would impose $2.4 billion of tariffs on US goods "ranging from strawberries to Christmas trees" in retaliation for a US ban on Mexican trucks on American highways. The new tariffs, ranging from 10% to 40%, are Mexico's response to the scrapping by the US Congress of a program allowing Mexican trucks to haul goods inside the US, an action that Mexico deems a violation of NAFTA. Mexico has graciously exempted staple goods, such as rice, corn, wheat, and meat, from the tariffs so as not to raise consumer prices for people being pummeled by the economic crisis.

These two events are unrelated, but are also more than mere coincidence. How Obama responds to the Mexican tariff imposition is going to be a vital test of his commitment to existing free trade regimes, let alone expanding free trade. The truck issue has been simmering since 2001; some key US lawmakers backed by American trucking unions claim, without any merit, that Mexican trucks do not meet US standards, a claim that looks suspiciously like an effort to protect US trucking from Mexican competition. Regardless of what Obama intends to do regarding reopening NAFTA or trying to re-do the signed but not yet ratified free trade deals with Colombia and South Korea, it is essential that he send a strong signal on this issue, not only to Mexico but to the rest of the world. The US is the leader and driving engine of the global market and of the free trade regime, but US support for free trade has always been very slim (recent survets by the Pew Global Attitudes Project have found year after year that the US has the lowest public support for free trade among all developed nations).

With the economic crisis cascading around the globe, pressures for protectionist measures have increased, and while we're not anywhere close to Smoot-Hawley land yet, the last thing the US and the global economy needs is more inefficiency, waste, and protection. Obama may have picked a trade lightweight for USTR but his willingness to adhere to an existing US trade agreement, to compromise with one of the US's most important trade partners, and to show a commitment to free trade can send an even more powerful signal.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

看房子,買房子,建商自售,自售,台北新成屋,台北豪宅,新成屋,豪宅,美髮儀器,美髮,儀器,髮型,EMBA,MBA,學位,EMBA,專業認證,認證課程,博士學位,DBA,PHD,在職進修,碩士學位,推廣教育,DBA,進修課程,碩士學位,網路廣告,關鍵字廣告,關鍵字,課程介紹,學分班,文憑,牛樟芝,段木,牛樟菇,日式料理, 台北居酒屋,日本料理,結婚,婚宴場地,推車飲茶,港式點心,尾牙春酒,台北住宿,國內訂房,台北HOTEL,台北婚宴,飯店優惠,台北結婚,場地,住宿,訂房,HOTEL,飯店,造型系列,學位,牛樟芝,腦磷脂,磷脂絲胺酸,SEO,婚宴,捷運,學區,美髮,儀器,髮型,牛樟芝,腦磷脂,磷脂絲胺酸,看房子,買房子,建商自售,自售,房子,捷運,學區,台北新成屋,台北豪宅,新成屋,豪宅,學位,碩士學位,進修,在職進修, 課程,教育,學位,證照,mba,文憑,學分班,網路廣告,關鍵字廣告,關鍵字,SEO,关键词,网络广告,关键词广告,SEO,关键词,网络广告,关键词广告,SEO,台北住宿,國內訂房,台北HOTEL,台北婚宴,飯店優惠,住宿,訂房,HOTEL,飯店,婚宴,台北住宿,國內訂房,台北HOTEL,台北婚宴,飯店優惠,住宿,訂房,HOTEL,飯店,婚宴,台北住宿,國內訂房,台北HOTEL,台北婚宴,飯店優惠,住宿,訂房,HOTEL,飯店,婚宴,結婚,婚宴場地,推車飲茶,港式點心,尾牙春酒,台北結婚,場地,結婚,場地,推車飲茶,港式點心,尾牙春酒,台北結婚,婚宴場地,結婚,婚宴場地,推車飲茶,港式點心,尾牙春酒,台北結婚,場地,居酒屋,燒烤,美髮,儀器,髮型,美髮,儀器,髮型,美髮,儀器,髮型,美髮,儀器,髮型,小套房,小套房,進修,在職進修,留學,證照,MBA,EMBA,留學,MBA,EMBA,留學,進修,在職進修,牛樟芝,段木,牛樟菇,關鍵字排名,網路行銷,关键词排名,网络营销,網路行銷,關鍵字排名,关键词排名,网络营销,PMP,在職專班,研究所在職專班,碩士在職專班,PMP,證照,在職專班,研究所在職專班,碩士在職專班,SEO,廣告,關鍵字,關鍵字排名,網路行銷,網頁設計,網站設計,網站排名,搜尋引擎,網路廣告,SEO,廣告,關鍵字,關鍵字排名,網路行銷,網頁設計,網站設計,網站排名,搜尋引擎,網路廣告,SEO,廣告,關鍵字,關鍵字排名,網路行銷,網頁設計,網站設計,網站排名,搜尋引擎,網路廣告,SEO,廣告,關鍵字,關鍵字排名,網路行銷,網頁設計,網站設計,網站排名,搜尋引擎,網路廣告,EMBA,MBA,PMP