Trade Policy and the Obama Administration

By Schott, Jeffrey J. | Business Economics, July 2009 | Go to article overview

Trade Policy and the Obama Administration


Schott, Jeffrey J., Business Economics


During his primary campaign, President Obama took an aggressive stance on trade, suggesting a protectionist drift in U.S. trade policy. However, it seems more likely that policy will focus more on enforcement of existing rights than on protectionist initiatives. The major influences on trade policy are likely to be multilateral approaches to trade problems, broad foreign policy concerns, the impact of trade policy on recovery from the current recession, and global climate change initiatives. Holdover initiatives on the World Trade Organization's Doha round and bilateral agreements will be joined by-global climate change as the principal policy issues for the next few years.

Business Economics (2009) 44, 150-153.

doi:10.1057/be.2009.15

Keywords: trade policy, protectionism, Obama administration, world trade organization, bilateral agreements, global climate change

**********

What a difference a year makes! Last year, Senators Obama and Clinton were vying for the Democratic nomination and threatening to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) if the pact was not renegotiated. Their campaign debate was regarded by our trading partners as signaling a protectionist drift in U.S. trade policy. Go abroad and you will find officials still worried about the direction of U.S. policy--even though President Obama long ago dispensed with the inflammatory rhetoric and emphasized the importance of U.S. compliance with its international trade obligations.

During the campaign, the President emphasized the need to better enforce U.S. rights under existing trade laws and agreements and to strengthen NAFTA rules on labor and the environment. His views resonated with the electorate, especially with core Democratic constituencies. Union opposition to NAFTA and other trade pacts is strong and will undoubtedly intensify as the U.S. unemployment rate spikes. Clearly, the President will try to "put paid" to his campaign promises on trade. Thus, we will see more antidumping cases and World Trade Organization (WTO) litigation filed by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR)--that always happens during periods of economic distress. And U.S. officials will push Canada and Mexico to "upgrade" NAFTA--which they appear willing to accept as long as it doesn't involve renegotiating existing obligations.

Undoubtedly, President Obama will be forced by Congress to do more. The caucus of new members of Congress elected on an explicitly antitrade liberalization platform do not fully share the views of the centrist, international-minded Obama administration. Indeed, Obama's main trade policy challenge will be working with members of his own party in Congress.

That is why the Obama administration first has to address the anxieties about globalization and trade in the American public debate that are reflected in congressional trade policy critiques before he can garner a mandate for new trade negotiations. Doing so could well smooth the path for future trade initiatives, especially if the administration strengthens unemployment insurance and pension and health-care benefits. Unlike trade policy, those issues are high priority for the Obama administration.

President Obama entered office with an ambitious domestic reform agenda that included health care, energy, and the environment. The urgent task of managing the global economic crisis has so far superseded, but has not supplanted, those plans to bolster the social safety net. To that end, the $787 billion stimulus bill in February 2009 included an extensive expansion of the trade adjustment assistance program to help displaced workers. In light of the massive economic challenges confronting the new team, which is still under-staffed due to the unwieldy nomination and congressional confirmation process, and in light of declining output and rising unemployment, the Obama administration will be hard pressed to pursue new trade initiatives anytime soon--especially since fast track trade negotiation authority, which lapsed in 2007, is unlikely to be revived in the near term, except possibly for the Doha Development Round (the current round of WTO negotiations). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Trade Policy and the Obama Administration
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.