Thursday, June 05, 2008

Preparing Trade Policy Reforms

The United States will reform its trade policy no matter who occupies the Oval Office next year. That’s the prediction of Sherwood Brown (above, center), U.S. Senator from Ohio, long an advocate of fair trade.

Brown is leading a Congressional initiative to do the groundwork for that policy. On June 4 he introduced a bill to 1) review all existing trade agreements, 2) renegotiate those agreements based on that review, and 3) set the terms of new trade agreements.

The bill proposes policy requirements that broaden the protection of the public interest in trade and investment policy. For example, protecting the rights of foreign investors could no longer override a country’s efforts to protect the rights of its own workers.

Under current law and practice, President Bush has signed trade agreements on his own authority before sending them to Congress for approval under an expedited procedure that permits no amendment. Under Brown’s bill, the President could sign a trade agreement only after it gets the approval of both Houses of Congress.

The bill’s full title is the Trade Reform, Accountability, Development, and Employment Act of 2008, or TRADE Act for short. Although the bill is unlikely to be enacted this year, it should help develop an improved version for 2009.

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