Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Coming: a new U.S. ‘framework’ for trade

President Obama will soon be outlining a new “framework” for international trade. Ambassador Ron Kirk, the President’s trade representative, confirmed that on June 2 in remarks to the U.S.-China Business Council in Washington.

Recognizing that trade “has the potential to lift up workers in America and around the world,” Obama holds that future trade agreements need to have strong, enforceable labor and environmental standards, Kirk said.

Hanging over U.S.-China relations is the fact that China alone accounts for about half of the U.S. trade deficit with the whole world. In the first quarter of this year, the United States imported $64,810,000,000 in goods from China, while exporting only $14,426,000,000.

Ambassador Kirk did not cite these figures, but spoke of “the extraordinary opportunities for job creation here in the United States if we shrink our trade imbalance with China, and if China further opens its market to U.S. goods and services.”

Complicating those two if’s is that about a quarter of the U.S. imports from China is in “intra-firm” trade, that is, cross-border transactions between different branches of the same firm.

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