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Views from the Center

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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.

Financial Crisis Requires Leadership, Including from Congress on Trade

Congress has one more chance this week to do the right thing and pass the bilateral trade agreement with Colombia (as well as the one with Panama). The New York Times made the same argument in an editorial today, focusing on America's relations with Latin America and the blow to U.S. credibility around the world if it walks away from an agreement negotiated in good faith -- and then renegotiated to meet Democrats concerns in a number of areas after they captured Congress in 2006.

World Bank Caucus Launched on the Hill

The U.S. Congress launched a new bipartisan Caucus for Congressional-World Bank Dialogue at a packed event on Capitol Hill July 16. The caucus, co-chaired by Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Betty McCollum (D-MN), provides a forum for members of Congress to engage the World Bank, parliamentarians and policy experts on poverty reduction, global development and trade.

Last Gasp for Doha?

Trade ministers are currently gathered at the World Trade Organization in Geneva to give one last push to delivering a Doha Round trade agreement before it is put on the shelf indefinitely. As it has been from the beginning, agriculture remains a key stumbling block (see my book, Delivering on Doha).

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