Thursday, September 4, 2014


What is old is often new again.  

Occasionally, WTD delves into its back issues to see what is old in trade news and what continues to return – often to badger new trade officials today.

Here’s some top articles from WTD a decade ago – September 6 through 10, 2004.

The first week of September is always a slow one – with Administration officials and members of Congress getting back from a month-long August recess.  But on September 6, 2004, WTD reported that ranking Commerce Department officials were working hard to ease a rapidly emerging crisis with China over an expected onslaught of textile imports.  Commerce Undersecretary for International Trade Grant Aldonas in the George W. Bush Administration was attempting to ease concerns of US textile producers who were threatening to file a slew of special China safeguard petitions.
Commerce was working on “guidelines” for petition reviewers in the department.  Later in the week Mr. Aldonas jetted off to Beijing to press for a comprehensive textile agreement.
Neither an agreement nor the filings ever came to fruition.

In Geneva, the United States said it intended to challenge a recent World Trade Organization dispute settlement panel verdict against an array of domestic and export subsidies programs for US growers of upland cotton.
Sound familiar?
The panel demanded that the United States immediately remove the subsidies.  There were some tweaks in the US farm law during its latest iteration last year.  But Brazil is still not happy and continues to threaten a WTO compliance case in which it considers essentially the same subsidies.

And US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said the Bush Administration was eyeing free trade agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Oman.  The US-Oman FTA became a reality; but nothing emerged for the largest market in the region.

Finally, at the end of the week, the Bush White House rejected a second attempt in less than six months to bring a Section 301 unfair trade practices action against China for intentionally manipulating the renmimbi to promote its exports and block imports.  The petition was filed by the newly formed China Currency Coalition on Thursday morning and rejected in the afternoon.
The current saga continues, with every Administration since steadfastly rejecting similar calls for action to address the currency/trade issue.

Jim Berger

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