Thursday, September 14, 2006

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Won't you take me to.... Think Tank Town?

I was recently made aware of a place called Think Tank Town. edits and publishes columns submitted by 10 prominent think tanks on a rotating basis every other weekday. Each think tank is free to choose its authors and the topics it believes are most important and timely.

For better or for worse, the Council on Foreign Relations chose me to provide a precis of U.S. Trade Strategy:

U.S. trade policy is at a crossroads between pursuing freer trade or fairer trade. A free trade approach would jumpstart Doha by cutting agricultural subsidies or allowing greater cross-border movement of foreign workers; pursuing free trade agreements with South Korea, India, or Japan if the Doha round cannot be restarted, and pledging an all-out political push for the renewal of TPA in early 2007. A fair trade approach would refuse to make further concessions in the Doha round of negotiations until developing countries and the European Union demonstrate a greater receptivity to American exports; halting bilateral free trade agreements with developing countries; and relying more on "managed trade" arrangements, unilateral trade sanctions, escape clauses and safeguard mechanisms to rebalance U.S. trade.

The free trade orientation provides a more coherent set of economic policies, but carries a significant political risk. Adopting a free trade orientation will promote economic growth, control inflation, and reaffirm U.S. economic leadership to the rest of the world. At the current moment, however, freer trade runs against the tide of public and congressional opinion -- the political price of this policy will be steep. The fair trade orientation provides a more popular set of policies, but carries a significant policy risk. Adopting a tough position on slowing down imports while boosting exports will resonate strongly with many Americans. Because almost any trade barrier can be advocated on grounds of fairness to some group, however, special interests can easily hijack this policy orientation. Internationally, such a policy will be viewed as an abdication of U.S. economic leadership. Slowing down imports will encourage other countries to erect higher trade barriers against U.S. exports. Any kind of global trade war would severely damage the American economy -- and American workers.

Go check it out.

posted by Dan on 09.14.06 at 11:37 PM


Gee whiz, those selfish American workers are upset about losing their jobs and are calling their elected representatives - imagine that.

There will be US concensus on expanding trade only when the trickle up (torrent up) economics ends.

Hank Paulson is doing quite well, thank you, so he is quite comfortable doing business with China. Not so everyone.

posted by: save_the_rustbelt on 09.14.06 at 11:37 PM [permalink]

I will now have "Funkytown" in my head all day. Thanks a bunch, Dan.

posted by: Cain on 09.14.06 at 11:37 PM [permalink]

Why do you call protectionism "fair" trade? Fair to whom? By what standard? I think neutral language would be more appropriate.

posted by: srp on 09.14.06 at 11:37 PM [permalink]

Slowing down imports will encourage other countries to erect higher trade barriers against U.S. exports.

That wouldn't be much of a loss anymore, now would it?

posted by: Lord on 09.14.06 at 11:37 PM [permalink]

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