Friday, March 8, 2013

Trade-related News

. Friday, March 8, 2013

US-EU Trade:  The proposed US-EU trade agreement to be finished by the end of 2014? (here)  That’s an ambitious timeline.  With negotiations starting in June, that gives a year and a half.  Compare that to some other multiparty trade negotiations the US has been involved in . . . that’s really fast.   

But, as has been discussed before on this blog, maybe there are things that are different about the EU deal (e.g., here).  One example of this is labor’s posture towards the agreement.  Statements from the Communications Workers of America, United Steelworkers, United Auto Workers and a number of other prominent labor organizations are positive, and suggest that a deal might operate to strengthen US labor standards.  Not surprisingly, not everyone is on board with such a development:  It would be inappropriate to try to alter U.S. labor law through the back door,” said John Murphy, vice president of international affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (article here).
In any case, US-EU negotiations already have a very different dynamic when compared to proposed trade agreements with developing countries.

USTR on the sequester:   That 1.5-year timeline seems even faster if the USTR is strapped for resources.  The USTR general council has cautioned that the sequester could have an impact on the agency's ability to negotiate new agreements and initiate legal disputes to enforces existing ones (here).

 
Trade promotion authority (TPA):  Also related to the US trade agreement agenda is the status of TPA.  TPA facilitates Congressional passage of negotiated trade agreements by making the agreements subject to an up or down vote (i.e., without amendments and additional wrangling by legislators).  This authority is often viewed as an important tool to get trade deals through Congress, and it expired in 2007.  Two years ago, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) criticized the Obama administration for failing to pursue trade-promotion authority.  Hatch asserted that “This is the first president who hasn’t really asked for it or hasn’t seemed to want it since Jimmy Carter.”

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