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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

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.

Kirk Confirmation Hearing is Opportunity for Obama Administration to Link Trade and Development

The confirmation hearing for Ron Kirk, President Obama's choice for U.S. Trade Representative, is now scheduled for March 5th. When Kirk goes before the Senate Finance Committee, we hope that the senators will probe him on trade policy and development policy -- specifically, how they intersect and how they could be better coordinated. Currently, trade and development policy are often dealt with as separate issues by the U.S. government.

How Will We Cope with Downside of Global Hyper-Connectivity?

By providing fiscal stimulus and strengthening financial sector regulation, of course. But that may not be enough. Will the U.S. and the Europeans also revisit the idea of a global social contract -- to protect millions of people losing their jobs in developing countries? In a speech I delivered to the Dutch Scientific Council in December, I argued that

(Mostly) Good News on Trade Front in Stimulus Compromise

Although we still do not have all the details, CQ Politics is reporting that most of last week's compromise on Trade Adjustment Assistance made it back into the stimulus bill. It had been pulled from the Senate version because of demands from Senator Kyl (R-AZ) that TAA reform be linked to a date certain for voting on the free trade agreement with Colombia.

Rebuilding the Foundation for U.S. Trade Policy

Congressman Xavier Becerra (D-CA) reportedly declined President-elect Obama's offer to be the new U.S. Trade Representative because he "came to the conclusion that [trade] wouldn't be priority number one, and it might not be number two or three." Given the enormous problems facing the American economy, and given American attitudes toward trade ranging from ambivalence to outright hostility, that is not surprising.

As Downturn Chokes Trade, Beware Protectionism

The excellent article by Anthony Faiola and Ariana Eunjung Cha in today's Washington Post (Downturn Choking Global Commerce) shows how close we are to the precipice in the global trading system and what is at stake with the trade negotiations in Geneva. Although there has been a long-standing assumption that countries would continue to ride the bike of trade liberalization forward, there are no guarantees. With too little forward motion, bicycles topple.

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