Can We Start Worrying About The Incoming Administration's Trade Policies?

Yes We Can!

Consider Mr Obama’s support for the multilateral trading system. It must be admitted that the Doha round is on hold and Mr Obama could not move it forward even if he so desired. A principal problem is that its completion turns critically on the US making further reductions in its distorting agricultural subsidies. But the issue has become even more difficult with the collapse of commodity prices and hence increases in support payments. Besides, history shows that the freeing of trade is nearly impossible to achieve in times of macroeconomic crisis.

But Mr Obama (unlike Gordon Brown) missed the opportunity, provided by the Group of 20’s affirmation of trade’s importance, to affirm that he attaches the highest priority to closing the Doha round and will work on this urgent task throughout his first year.

That’s just a taste of the bad news. There is a whole lot more, including a sharp analysis on the lack of verbal support given by the President-elect to the need for WTO compliance concerning the Big 3 automakers bailout and the generally poor stance on trade taken by Obama appointees. I tried to look for good news in the article for free traders. There was little to none to be had.