Monday, June 16, 2008

EXPANDING FREE TRADE MAY BE NEARING END

BLOOMBERG After six decades of ever-expanding international commerce, the high tide of free trade is ebbing. As tens of thousands of South Koreans protest U.S. beef imports, rising commodity prices push nations to keep more food for domestic consumption and the U.S. chooses a new president who might be less supportive of free trade than his immediate predecessors, the world may be facing the end of a cycle that began in the immediate aftermath of World War II.

The liberalization of global trade has come "to a screeching halt,'' said Fred Bergsten, director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. "It'll take years to rebuild the foundations of free-trade policy.''

The cause is more political than economic. "This is a challenging time to be in the pro-trade wing of any party in virtually any country,'' U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab said June 12 at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "It's hard to be for open trade, whether you are in India or the European Union or in China.''. . .

European Union trade negotiators expressed concern this week about "a re-emergence of protectionist sentiment in the U.S.'' after Congress approved a new $289 billion farm bill that extends price supports and other subsidies developing nations oppose. . .

Reservations about a new WTO agreement have grown into a general aversion to free trade in many countries, including France and Italy, where cheap imports are blamed for job losses. That's causing some governments to rethink their pro-trade policies.

Most important is the U.S., the world's largest economy and biggest importer. Democrats, who took control of Congress in 2007, have postponed a decision on a trade deal with Colombia by amending so-called fast-track authority, which guards against amendments and filibusters and requires a timely vote. . .

Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama says that if elected, he might reopen the world's largest trade deal, the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. The Illinois senator, 46, says the pact should include new labor and environmental standards.

Mexican farmers want to renegotiate NAFTA too: They shut down Mexico City's main boulevard in January to protest the pact, which they say hasn't done enough to protect them from cheaper U.S. imports of sugar, beans, corn and milk.

3 Comments:

At June 16, 2008 11:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I am a pro-growth, free-market guy. I love the market."
-- Barack Obama; June, 2008; (NYT link)

 
At June 16, 2008 11:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, the market owns Obama, and his campaign owes everything to marketing. Now if only we could freely trade his candidacy with that of Ralph Nader.

 
At June 17, 2008 11:22 PM, Anonymous Tommy Lasorda said...

Near the end, how much farther could it have gone?
Jesus Christ, is there any meaningful kind of job left in the United States that still pays a respectable wage?
Give me a fucking break, near the end?
What's left?
Someone has the balls to suggest that is nearing the end? Jesus Christ.
What did Kingman hit tonight, three, four...whoops, wrong rant.
Nearing the end, Jesus Christ...

 

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