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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.

 

Latest AGOA Delay Comes from a Surprising Source

This is a joint post with Jenny Ottenhoff.

Last month, one of us wrote that Congress seemed to have compromised and reached a bipartisan deal to extend the rule (known technically but awkwardly as the third-country fabric rule) that allows poor African countries to export clothing to the United States duty-free under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. We should have known better. This week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was finally ready to bring a package of trade items, including the rule extension, to the floor for passage by unanimous consent when two senators put holds (subscription required) on it over completely unrelated issues – despite the fact that they actually support the extension.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Congressional Bipartisanship for Developing Countries

Given the harsh tone and general gridlock in the U.S. Congress of late, one might think that signs of bipartisanship and ‘getting things done’ would be welcome, but not always.  We caught a glimpse this week of the good, bad and ugly in congressional activities surrounding the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which grants duty-free treatment to most imports from sub-Saharan Africa , and the U.S. farm bill.

The Farm Bill Saga Begins (Again): Will Development Be on the Stage, in the Wings, or out of Luck?

Many in the development research and advocacy communities engaged heavily in the mid-2000s debate over what became the 2008 farm bill and were sorely disappointed with the outcome. At that time, the push for farm bill reform was part of a broader campaign to push the Doha Development Agenda round of international trade negotiations to a successful conclusion, including by sharply reducing the levels of trade-distorting support that rich countries provide to their farmers.

An Uncertain Future for U.S. Trade Preferences Programs

This is a joint post with Kaci Farrell.

Here we are in the final days of a congressional session, so it must be time to extend whichever trade preference programs are set to expire. This year, the 111th Congress must act (soon!) to extend the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program and the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA). Important parts of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, which provides benefits and services to American workers who lose their jobs due to trade, is also set to expire at the end of 2010.

More HOPE, and HELP, for Haiti, but Congress Still Holds Back

Nearly four months after the earthquake that devastated Haiti, and after receiving a letter from former Presidents William Clinton and George W. Bush, the U.S. Congress seems prepared to expand access for Haitian apparel exports with the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act. This is important because apparel is one of the few sectors, outside of construction, that can quickly create formal sector jobs for thousands of desperate Haitians, particularly women.

New Poll Confirms that Congress Doesn't Listen to Voters When Lavishing Subsidies on Farmers

When I was writing my book, Delivering on Doha: Farm Trade and the Poor, I came across a 2004 poll showing that Americans, including in farm states, support subsidies only for small farmers and only in bad years. Last week, another poll by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland was released showing that attitudes haven’t changed. The reality, as I discussed in my book, is that the top 20 percent of recipients receive 80 percent of all payments.

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.

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