Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Tag: USTR

 

Export Promotion Is Not the Same As Building Markets Abroad

Last month, President Obama laid out a bold pledge to consolidate and reorganize the federal government in support of a more competitive America.  If you missed that line, it was right before his joke about salmon being regulated by different agencies depending on whether they’re in fresh or salt water.  While President Obama specifically referenced a dozen agencies working on export promotion, it’s difficult to gauge whether the consolidation wave will touch all of them or just a lucky few.  Those talks are happening behind closed doors.  So, we’re left trying to read the tea leaves.  Base

Too Big to Succeed? Why (W)Hole-of-Government Cannot Work for U.S. Development Policy

This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

While talking beautifully about its development plans, the Administration is really not living up to its rhetoric of elevating development to equal status with diplomacy and defense, the so-called 3Ds. If development is really such an equal partner alongside defense and diplomacy, why is USAID increasingly a minor subcomponent of the State department? The promises of making USAID the “world’s premier development agency” are ringing embarrassingly hollow. How can an agency be influential when it doesn’t even control its own budget or set its own strategic priorities? Even in areas where USAID has traditionally been very strong—disaster relief and food security, for instance—the State Department has taken over. (The Feed-the-Future initiative is effectively directed by State and, despite early promises that USAID would lead on Haitian earthquake relief and reconstruction, it was recently leaked that a State coordinator is running the show.) And it should hardly be surprising that USAID is getting its lunch eaten in the interagency when it had no head for a year and, nearly two years in, still has less than half of its top managers on the job.

But what if the problems of the 3Ds aren’t really about the staff vacancies, the battle of Washington egos, and an empire-building State Department? What if the real problem is that the much-vaunted “whole-of-government” approach is fundamentally unworkable in the United States?

In Kenya, Questions and Suggestions on AGOA

Last week Secretary of State Clinton, U.S. Trade Representative Kirk, Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack, and other U.S. government officials were in Nairobi at the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum, making new and improved promises about the commitment of the United States to African development. I was in Nairobi last week too to moderate our fifth consultation meeting for the CGD Global Trade Preference Reform Working Group.

A U.S. Trade Policy for Development: Helping The Poorest in A Time of Crisis

This blog orginally apeared on Vox on 5/27/09

The economic crisis is hitting the world’s poorest countries through falling trade and commodity prices. This column argues that the US should respond by further opening its market to exports from small, poor economies. That would not only provide an additional stimulus to those economies but also strengthen US global leadership, give a boost to the Doha Round, and serve broader US national interests by helping to promote political stability in some very shaky parts of the world.

“The World’s poorest developing nations have a special place in the Obama trade agenda.”

-US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Georgetown University, 29 April 2009

While welcome, it is not yet clear how Ambassador Kirk’s words, and the President’s commitment, will be turned into action – and the need for action is urgent.

Do We Need a "Crisis Round" of Trade Talks? (Or Just Faster Dispute Settlement?)

Would a “Crisis Round” of trade talks launched at the London Summit next week be a useful mechanism for averting a further beggar-thy-neighbor protectionism? My colleague Arvind Subramanian and his frequent co-author, World Bank economist Aaditya Mattoo, think so. They argued for such a move in an interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal Asia earlier this week (A Crisis Calls for a Crisis Round):

Re-thinking Trade, Re-creating Consensus

Based on the testimony of USTR-designate Ron Kirk this week before the Senate Finance Committee - brief though it was - the Obama Administration is moving in an entirely different direction than we have seen over the last eight years. The concept of a "progressive trade agenda for America," though as yet undefined, certainly suggests that the administration will be looking at the global economy from a very different perspective.