Thursday, December 03, 2009

In Geneva and in Washington the call is for Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

In his speech on the morning of the last day of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva, U.S. Ambassador Ron Kirk only hinted at all that he had in mind. At a working session on the WTO’s contribution to development, Kirk, the United States Trade Representative (USTR), spoke of what “remains the linchpin to our efforts” to bring the stalled Doha negotiation round to a successful conclusion.

That, he said, “will require market-opening initiatives from all key players – not only developed but also advanced developing countries, commensurate with their role in the global economy.”

In a statement that afternoon, December 2, he reaffirmed the Obama administration’s commitment to a Doha agreement favorable to the poorest countries, but also emphasized another economic necessity:

“In the United States, we recognize that trade can be an important pillar of global economic recovery and of recovery right at home – particularly in terms of creating the well-paid jobs that Americans want and need.”
Then in subsequent talks with reporters Ambassador Kirk was more specific.

“We are turning out attention almost full time to how we can create jobs and continue to grow the economy,” he told the Associated Press. “Too many Americans believed…that our previous trade policies had been overly generous to our partners.”

So far what is offered on the negotiating table, he told the Wall Street Journal, doesn’t give the United States “meaningful market access in the part of the world that will be growing and driving GDP growth over the next few years,” referring to countries like China, India, and Brazil.

The Business Standard of India quoted Kirk along the same lines: “The United States has been clear that we will need to achieve meaningful opening of markets that results in significant new trade flows – China, India, and Brazil, and South Africa.”

Meanwhile, Washington was preparing for a White House “Jobs Summit” on December 3 with the participation of business, labor, academia, and non-profit groups on how to put Americans back to work.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing called for “aggressive action to spur manufacturing job creation.” On the AFL-CIO blog, the call was for Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.

Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch division, issued a statement on December 2 calling for replacing the Doha Round agenda with a WTO “turnaround plan.” “Ten years after the world’s most powerful governments and corporations failed to launch a massive WTO expansion at the 1999 WTO Ministerial,” she said, “there is still no WTO expansion. BUT, there also is still no WTO turnaround, and the current rules are causing major damage on many fronts.”

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