April 27, 2013

ALONG WITH FOLLOWING W'S LEAD ON MIDDLE EAST LIBERALIZATION....

Trade Winds : It's taken four years, but President Obama is finally coming around to a pro-trade economic agenda. And it could be his greatest legacy. (JAMES K. GLASSMAN | APRIL 26, 2013, Foreign Policy)

During the first three years of his first term, Barack Obama talked about boosting exports, but did little to expand trade. Unlike every president since Franklin Roosevelt, he declined to pursue trade promotion authority, necessary for any significant trade deal because it forces Congress to take an up-or-down vote, without amendments. Unlike his recent predecessors, he didn't push for multilateral agreements like the Doha Round, which focused on increasing trade links with developing countries. And he took nearly three years to get approval for the bilateral deals with Panama, Colombia, and South Korea that had been negotiated during President George W. Bush's tenure.

But in a dramatic about-face, Obama has embraced two large agreements that would open new markets to U.S. exporters. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would remove tax and regulatory barriers with the European Union, while the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would increase trade with 11 Asian and Latin American countries. In February, President Obama and European leaders announced they would pursue a sweeping free-trade agreement, and on April 12, the United States approved Japan's entry into TPP negotiations, where it joins Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, and Vietnam; the deal will likely be completed by December.

These are trade openings on a grand scale. The E.U. is the largest economy in the world, the United States is second, and Japan is fourth. The dozen nations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership account for some 40 percent of global GDP. This joint-lowering of trade barriers would be the most powerful step taken to restore economic growth since the 2008 financial crisis, both for the United States and its partner countries. "Countries that liberalized their trade regimes experienced average annual growth rates that were about 1.5 percentage points higher than before liberalization," according to an often-cited study by Stanford's Romain Wacziarg and Karen Horn Welch in 2008.

More open trade lets Americans reap additional revenues from foreign sales, while profiting from the lower costs that imports provide -- both for finished consumer goods and for inputs into U.S. manufacturing.


...and getting the Heritage Foundation's health insurance mandate, trade'll be nearly his only legacy.  Historically, his term will be indistinguishable from that of Clinton, W and his successors.

Posted by at April 27, 2013 8:06 AM
  

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