Thursday, September 3, 2009

Newsflash: Obama Continues to Punt on Trade

. Thursday, September 3, 2009

Trade is the largest campaign issue to be completely ignored by Obama. We've at least had proposals (sometimes legislation) for fiscal stimulus, cap and trade, Main Street bailouts (e.g. Big Three), and health care reform, plus a major shift in our strategy in Afghanistan. But very little on trade other than oblique, hypocritical references in G20 communiques to "avoid protectionism".

Perhaps this is to be expected -- Obama does have a lot on his plate at the moment, and he's only been in office for a little over 7 months -- but perhaps not. During the campaign Obama couched the review of trade treaties as a major plank of his efforts to support Main Street. Trade was just below health care in this regard. Meanwhile, Obama has unabashedly used the economic crisis to open every can of worms but trade, so it's not proper to say that he's taking things one at a time. Moreover, Obama has three FTAs sitting on his desk that have been negotiated, agreed to, and signed; he hasn't sent any of them to Congress for ratification. The virtual lack of any movement on any trade-related issue is actually somewhat stunning.

So IELPB got a little excited when U.S. Trade Rep. Kirk indicated that Obama would issue his first major trade policy sometime before the G-20 meetings later this month. Alas, such excitement was misplaced:

Washington Trade Daily just tweeted:

USTR Kirk just told reporters President Obama will deliver his long-awaited trade policy speech sometime before the G-20 meeting Sept 24.

"Long-awaited" is right. I had been expecting to spend much of the past few months blogging about the new Obama trade policy, but there has not been much to blog about. I wonder if Kirk and Obama talked about the speech during their golf outing yesterday. It's good to hear that the top trade person has direct access to the President!

UPDATE: Sigh. Washington Trade Daily has the following update:

USTR now says no Obama speech on trade soon. But will say something before the September 24 Pittsburgh G-20. A "tweet" maybe?

If that "pre-G-20 statement" is anything like past G-20-related statements, there will be very little substance. Which is unfortunate.


Newsflash: Obama Continues to Punt on Trade
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