The Spitfire's Grill
Regular Rants from a Pragmatic Liberal
Monday, June 13, 2005
Topic of the Day: Trade Agreements
I get all these political emails I don't have time to read, yet I save them anyway. Well today I went back and read one and it turned into quite the gem.


This New Democrat Dispatch boggles my mind. Read the whole thing. These facts are astounding:
American goods and services exports grew by well over $200 billion in President Clinton's first term and also in his second term. (As well as $140 billion in export growth during the first Bush administration.) But in George W. Bush's first term exports grew barely $70 billion. And if we discount the rapid growth of exports to China and Vietnam, after the implementation of Clinton-era trade agreements, it looks even worse.

Why the difference? One big change from Clinton to Bush has been a collapse in the willingness to enforce trade agreements.

It goes on to talk about how Clinton's White House averaged four times as many WTO filings for abuse of trade agreements. Now anyone can play with numbers, so that doesn't impress me too much (especially because the WTO was brand new), but it does look rather peculiar.
We have been peppered with 33 of the 109 WTO cases filed since 2001, as trading partners protest everything from the Foreign Sales Corporation tax policy to steel tariffs, anti-dumping laws, and cotton subsidies.
People are always going to be gunning for us, at least as long as we're at the top. I say get used to it and fight back, but it doesn't appear that the Bush Administration, which loves to boast about how it won't be pushed around by foreign nations, seems to be getting pummeled by them.
There are obvious gaps in WTO enforcement that the dispute system is there to address. Intellectual property protection, trading rights, and distribution in China; farm and civil aircraft subsidies in Europe; Japanese distribution systems in many manufacturing fields; Indian intellectual property and standards issues, and others. U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Democrats have been pointing these out for years.
Microsoft has been having quite a fight with China over the past couple years. Apparently, no one in China wants to pay for Windows either, but unfortunately for Microsoft its a lot easier to get away with it because of Beijing's lax intellectual property rights.

Free Trade depends on a strict enforcement of trade agreements, bar none, yet it doesn't seem like the Bush White House likes it. The e-mail didn't discuss why, but I'm sure its part of some kind of strategy.

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