Monthly Archives: December 2008

Professors prosecute protectionism

Two of the best academic analysts of the global trade system, Simon Evenett and Richard Baldwin, have rushed out an ‘e-book’ entitled “What world leaders must do to halt the spread of protectionism“, containing brief prescriptions by sixteen professors and an industrialist. A powerful line-up. “Free” (as in beer). Deserves your attention and reflection.

A better way to negotiate on agriculture

Next week, at the Institute for International Trade in Adelaide, Andrew Stoler (Institute Director, former Deputy Director-General of WTO) and I are presenting a conference in our project on future frameworks for WTO agriculture agreements.

In addition to our own research (some linked here) we’ve commissioned the help of leading agriculture and trade policy research centers in Brazil, China, India and Indonesia to help us examine the political economy of the WTO agriculture negotiations. We’ve also benefited from comments from several of the world’s leading analysts of agricultural trade policies; summarized in our ‘Work in Progress‘ paper produced for the conference.

We are especially interested in testing an hypothesis first raised by the Warwick Commission about the value of so-called critical mass agreements as an adjunct to—or even as one of several substitutes for—the WTO’s single undertaking.

Below: an extract from our Work In Progress report that asks whether recent discoveries about the rapid growth of intra-industry trade in food products suggests that CM agreements for food might be a good bet as a road to future market-opening agreements.

Anti-NAFTA Congressman for U.S. Trade Rep?

An experienced Member of the Ways and Means trade subcommittee, another Californian lawyer (a profession that has not distinguished itself in the Trade Representative’s office, except by a take-no-prisoners advocacy), Xavier Becerra sounds pretty much what Obama promised during his campaign:

“Becerra did originally support NAFTA, but he has apologized for this and worked to oppose CAFTA, giving Bush fast-track authority for trade agreements, and granting China MFN…[He] has an 87% lifetime rating from the AFL-CIO. It’s not an A, but it’s still pretty good.”  extract from: Daily Kos

‘Good’ of course is something that ‘Daily Kos’ and I will never agree on. I hope that this story is not true, but I fear otherwise because Obama advocated these same views during the campaign. Let’s still hope that those people who argued Obama’s tired old anti-trade stump rhetoric would change once he was in office are right. But it doesn’t look that way right now.

Thanks to Ben Muse for this link.

Suppose the SWFs got cold feet?

“‘Right now we don’t have the courage to invest in financial institutions because we don’t know what problems we will put ourselves into,’ Lou Jiwei [Chairman of China Investment Corp] said on Wednesday. ‘My confidence should come from government policies. But if they are changing every week, how can you expect that to make me confident?”  extract from: Financial Times