U.S. Trade Policy: Don't Leave Poor Countries Behind

May 13, 2011

After a longer-than expected settling in period, the Obama administration is finally moving on trade policy. What is unclear - and the early signs are troubling - is whether U.S. policy will also encompass the president's promise to use trade as a tool of development.

The administration’s preference for bilateral and regional trade agreements risks undermining the global system of trade rules that provides at least some protection for the interests of smaller, poor countries. But an enforceable, rules based system is in the interests of both developing countries and the United States, even if it is slower and more cumbersome than some would wish.

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