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