Sunday, September 12, 2010

Obama ‘weak, cautious’ on trade

In an article titled “Obama’s Big Failure,” Susan Ariel Aaronson, associate research professor of George Washington University, criticizes the President’s trade policy as “cautious and vague.”

“Because they have not put forward an alternative model,” she writes in International Economy magazine, “by default, Obama Administration officials have accepted the Bush paradigm for trade liberalization.”

Dr. Aaronson identifies the chief mark of this “timidity” as going along with the Bush switch of trade negotiations from the multilateral forum to the bilateral and regional, which pursue “preferential” rather than free trade agreements. This reorientation “undermines both the effectiveness of the World Trade Organization and its fundamental principle of most favored nation (nondiscrimination among nations).”

“The result has been a mish-mash of global trade governance,” she points out, as the various preferential agreements include differences in some key rules. She strongly recommends returning the focus of trade policy to the WTO.

To gain public support for such a move (and trade generally, I would add), Dr. Aaronson urges policymakers to publicize the links between trade and employment., with the UN International Labor Organization having a role in this assessment.

Dr. Aaronson latest book is “Trade Imbalance: the Struggle to Weigh Human Rights in Trade Policy Making.”

Print Page

No comments: