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Last year, the International Labor Organization published a report that found the number of free trade agreements (FTAs) with provisions on worker rights had increased from four in 1995 to 21 a decade later and 58 by June 2013.
Last week saw the release of the new 2011 Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) rates for GDP produced by the International Comparison Program (ICP). The ICP is a major global statistical operation. The Global Office is housed in the World Bank but the ICP is implemented separately in each region by designated regional counterparts.
This is shaping up to be a big year for US trade policy. Most eyes are on potential deals with the Pacific Rim and Europe (and reeling from Senator Reid’s latest blow to their prospects). Those of us concerned with trade as a driver for development should also be watching Congress’ and the Obama Administration’s review of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
Just a few months after the devastating earthquake in Haiti four years ago, Congress overwhelmingly approved the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act to reduce the barriers to Haiti’s clothing exports. Congress’s goal in improving market access was to help Haiti attract investment and create jobs as part of the rebuilding process.
Colleagues Amanda Glassman and Bill Savedoff posted an excellent piece on the role of the World Bank, the US Agency for International Development, and other nontrade agencies in helping developing countries fend off the “Big Tobacco Bullies.” They argue that agencies like the World Bank could use their money, technical assistance, and policy dialogue to provide big visible support for developing countries to implement their anti-tobacco policies.
The Bali package included agreements to facilitate trade by modernizing customs procedures and to ensure that minimum access for agricultural imports subject to quotas is achieved in practice. On food security, there was, at the end, a resolution of the dispute over a “peace clause” that will allow India to shield its food stockholding program from trade challenges for at least four years.