Monday, September 30, 2013

What We're Covering This Week

Here’s What We’re Covering This Week

The federal government may shut down beginning Tuesday, but a busy week is still on tap:

Monday – US Trade Representative Michael Froman is in Brussels to discuss the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.  He delivers an address on TTIP to the German Marshall Fund there.
Here in Washington, the Association of American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America holds its annual outlook forum at the US Chamber of Commerce.  House New Democrats Chair Gregory Meeks (D-NY) is among the speakers.

Tuesday – USTR Froman moves on to Geneva, where he will address the World Trade Organization’s public forum.  He also meets with WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo and other officials in hopes of making progress on a package of trade facilitation and development issues for the WTO’s December ministerial.
Meanwhile, in Bali, chief negotiators on the 12-country TransPacific Partnership begin a two-day meeting to try to wrap up more technical-level issues in advance on meetings of TPP trade ministers and then the leaders of the 12 countries.

Wednesday – The Cato Institute sponsors a program on the WTO and future of multilateralism with speakers including New Zealand Ambassador Mike Moore – a former WTO director general.

Thursday – The globe-trotting USTR Froman ends up in Bali, where he will participate in a TPP trade ministers meeting and meetings related to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum meetings.
In Washington, the Washington International Trade Association sponsors a program on the African Growth and Opportunity Act and the future of US-Africa relations.

Friday – The US Trade Representative’s office holds a public hearing on China’s compliance with its World Trade Organization commitments – if the federal government is open.
In Bali, the TPP trade ministers are slated to meet.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Twenty and Ten Years Ago This Week

I’ve been in the trade reporting business for upwards of 30 years.  And after the first half decade I realized that the truism:  “There is nothing new under the sun” is more than a truism – it’s true.

WTD on a monthly basis will outline some of the major stories covered in the newsletter 10 years and 20 years ago to the week.  


From September 15 to 19, 2003 – President Bush (the younger) was chief of state and the crucial “Cancun” World Trade Organization ministerial was supposed to pull through a dying Doha Development Agenda.  But it collapsed.  Today in Geneva – and later in Bali – WTO ministers will make another desperate attempt to come up with a life-saving “small” WTO trade package for world trade ministers to revive the moribund Doha round.

Speculation today – as it was in September 2003 – is it will take a miracle.

But back in 2003, the United States wasted little time after the collapse of the Cancun ministerial to announce a new strategy of an “ambitious” free trade agreement program.  It started with a reinvigoration of President Reagan’s idea of a free trade agreement – from the Bering Straight to Tierra del Fuego – renamed by the Bush Administration a Free Trade Area of the Americas.   Didn’t happen, but the Bush Administration ended up with a string of successful FTAs nonetheless.

Mr. Bush – and his crack team at the US Trade Representative’s office – was credited with successfully negotiating 15 FTAs during his two terms in office.  That number represents three-quarters of US FTAs now in force.  The string of successes were Australia (2005), Bahrain (2006), the Central American Free Trade Agreement with five countries (2004), Chile (2004), Morocco (2004), Oman (2009), Peru (2006) and Singapore (2004).  The Bush Administration negotiated three other accords – with Colombia, South Korea and Panama, but they were delayed by the current Obama Administration for three years, until early 2012.

President Reagan was in charge of the country when the first US FTA was reached with Israel in 1985.  President Bush (the elder) moved to join the two giant economies of North America in the US-Canada Free Trade Agreement; President Clinton was President when the North American Free Trade Agreement was signed in 1994 and he negotiated the FTA with Jordan in 2000.

President Obama is in charge of the 12-member TransPacific Partnership negotiations.  Predecessor Bush committed the United States to those negotiations just before leaving office in 2008.

Negotiations with the European Union, for which the Obama Administration can fully take credit, began in July of this year.  (British Prime Minister Churchill first floated the idea of a United States of Europe – including free trade with the United States – just after World War II).


Also a decade ago, the United States – sparked by a push by the National Association of Manufacturers – started pressuring China on doing something about its intentionally undervalued currency.
That “high profile” debate continues today.

TWENTY YEARS AGO – September 13 through 17, 1993.

President Clinton geared up for a country- and Congress-wide push to gain final approval of what turned out to be a controversial North American Free Trade Agreement – negotiated by the previous Bush Administration.  Early in the week, the President gathered three of his predecessors the White House – former Presidents Ford, Carter and Bush – to convince Congress that NAFTA was a good idea.  Opposition mainly came from organized labor and an influential environment community, both of which worried that the first US FTA with a developing country would lower standards of living and environmental quality on both sides of the southern US border.  The United States already had an FTA with Canada.
The Clinton Administration had to come up with side agreements to the accord on labor and the environment as a pallative to gain final support from Congress.  The Administration finally won over some major environmental groups with its promises of a development bank that would address degradation on both sides of the border, but couldn’t convince labor on a similar labor side letter.
Liberal House Democratic Leader Rep. Richard A. Gephardt continued to speak out against the accord during that week in 2003.
By mid-week President Clinton was in pro-trade New Orleans to highlight the importance of NAFTA to the country.  And ranking Clinton cabinet members – including USTR Mickey Kantor along with Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen – were working on members on Capitol Hill.  Commerce Secretary Ron Brown was in the jaws of the enemy speaking in Pittsburgh on how the US steel industry would benefit by freer trade with Mexico.
And the Wall Street Journal reported that a public opinion poll showed that 36 percent of the American people outright opposed NAFTA; 25 percent supported it and a full 34 percent had no opinion.

The question for this week is whether President Obama will show his face outside the White House in support of the TransPacific Partnership which is supposed to wrap up by the end of the year.  Or will he decide that the benefits of free trade with the biggest and fastest growing nations of Asia and the Pacific side of Latin America are obvious – and need not be questioned either by the American people or Congress.
On Friday of this week public citizen groups opposed to TPP noisily demonstrated outside the US Trade Representative’s office while chief TPP negotiators were meeting inside.

Also this week in 1993, President Clinton took some administrative actions to ease the US trade embargo on Vietnam, and House Ways and Means trade subcommittee chair, the late Rep. Sam Gibbons, was conducting a lonely fight to normalize trade relations with Vietnam – nearly two decades after the end of the war.
Vietnam is now a full partner in the TPP negotiations which will end in a free trade agreement with the United States and 10 other nations.


Monday, September 16, 2013

What We're Covering This Week

What We’re Covering This Week...

Here are some of the stories we’ll be following this week:

Lots of foreign trade officials will be in town this week, including the chief negotiators for the TransPacific Partnership.

On Monday, US Trade Representative Michael Froman meets with Turkish Minister of Economy Safer Caglayan. In Geneva, negotiations on the Trade in Services Agreement begin and are expected to continue until the end of the week.
Tuesday, the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy sponsors an event on China trade and investment policy with several speakers from USTR. The Bipartisan Policy Center holds a discussion on Iran sanctions with Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Dan Coats.
Wednesday, USTR’s Froman meets with South African Trade Minister Rob Davies. The President’s Export Council subcommittee on export administration holds an open meeting. So does the US Export Import Bank’s advisory committee. Chief negotiators for the 12 TPP countries start to gather in Washington for a multi-day session in preparation for the upcoming Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum leaders meeting.
Thursday, the President’s Export Council meets. USTR Froman and other cabinet members will attend.
On Friday, the Cato Institute sponsors a program on the TPP. House Ways and Means Democratic trade counsel Jason Kearns participates.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Here's What We're Covering This Week

Here are some of the things we’ll be covering this week:

Monday – The US Trade Representative holds a public hearing on its Section 301 investigation of whether Ukraine is failing to protect intellectual property rights. On the Hill, key senators – including Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) – hold a news conference to press for action on a new five year farm bill before US farm programs expire at the end of this month. Also on Monday, the House is slated to consider the Global Investment in American Jobs Act (HR 2052).
In Geneva, the World Trade Organization General Council meets.
Tuesday – The TransPacific Partnership negotiations are the subject of a program sponsored by the Council of the Americas. New Zealand Ambassador Mike Moore and officials from the Japanese and Mexican embassies are among the speakers. Meanwhile, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations will be discussed a two separate events. Also, the Commerce Department’s Regulations and Procedures Technical Advisory Committee holds a public meeting.
The World Trade Organization Dispute Settlement Body meets in Geneva.
Wednesday – Indian barriers to US investment and financial services is the topic of a hearing before the Senate Banking subcommittee on national security and international trade and finance.
Thursday – The TPP will be a predominant topic of discussion at a day-long conference on Asia sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Friday -- Mexican Ambassador Medina Mora addresses a National Press Club news maker program.
Looks like it’s starting to get busy again...

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Here's What WTD Is Covering This Week

Here are some of the stories we’ll be covering this week:

On Wednesday, US Trade Representative Michael Froman meets privately with members of the Biotechnology Industry Association, where he is likely to brief them on the status of biotech issues in the TransPacific Partnership negotiations. Also on Wednesday, the Commerce Department will release its report on the US trade balance for July.
Thursday, we’ll be covering the American-Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce, where Minister for Foreign Economic Relations, Investment and Trade Elyor Ganiev will speak. Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni speaks at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. How the US and Japan can promote prosperity in the Asia Pacific will be the topic of a program sponsored by the US-Japan Research Institute and the Brookings Institution.
Friday, the National Bureau of Asian Research sponsors a program on the US, Japan and the TransPacific Partnership Agreement.