Free Traders Trying Desperately to Compete reports today,

Free Trade Stuff launches its website and a new line of free trade-related products today. The new company, formed by three recent University of Wisconsin alums, will focus on apparel in its initial stages. The company hopes to expand its line of products to cater to consumers tired of Fair Trade rhetoric.

The company’s first two t-shirt designs include a red shirt with the slogan “tariffs are for wussies” across the chest and a white shirt with a blue hand logo and the words “You’ve been slapped by The Invisible Hand,” a reference to the work of famous economist Adam Smith.

Unfortunately for this entrepreneurial business, in Wisconsin it will be hard to find a market for anti-fair trade products where during the NAFTA/WTO era almost 100,000 manufacturing jobs alone have been lost - and outsourcing continues to climb the skill ladder.

One might say that their business model is not very competitive at least in Wisconsin or perhaps in all of the United States where during the 2006 midterm election there was overwhelming support for fair trade policies and candidates, with 37 seats flipping from NAFTA-supporters to candidates who called for a new direction on American trade policy, including the election of one of the most outspoken members of the freshman class on this issue, Rep. Steve Kagen, a Democrat from Northern Wisconsin.

PS Looking at the website each shirt is $15! Looks like a massive ripoff to me, especially when they're willing to pay the lowest price for labor that they can find anywhere in the world!

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How to be a pacesetter on trade

Did anyone see the debates last night? I gotta say, after Monday's statement from the Edwards' campaign, you could really tell many of the candidates taking it to the next level on trade policy. Read Edwards' messaging from Monday, followed by other candidates' messaging from last night, and you'll see that a lot has been cribbed.

In one category of remarks were Edwards’ trade critiques that other candidates gladly also made. This includes reforming trade adjustment assistance (a perennial DC favorite), labor standards, and hiring some trade prosecutors to “enforce” the agreements on the books. Some of these are fine ideas, but they are unlikely to be either meaningfully implemented or to affect the nature of the U.S. workplace in a fundamental manner. Then there were the category of remarks on currency, tax codes and food safety, which are a little gutsier because they do challenge the corporate bottom line. But some of the candidates followed Edwards' lead on these as well.

So what was new in the debate? For me, the clearest example was Edwards' challenge of corporate power per se, which was picked up on by Obama: 

  • Edwards: "NAFTA was written by insiders in all three countries, and it served their interests - not the interests of regular workers."
  • Obama: "And the problem that we’ve had is, is that we’ve had corporate lobbyists, oftentimes involved in negotiating these trade agreements, but the AFL-CIO hasn’t been involved; ordinary working people have not been involved. And we’ve got to make sure that our agreements are good for everybody, because globalization right now is creating winners and losers. But the problem is, it’s the same winners and the same losers each and every time."

Obama was the only other candidate that picked up on Edwards' point. Many candidates talked about their strong support for labor legislation, picket lines and the like. But only Edwards and Obama were willing to draw those class lines, suggesting corporations are pushing for one interest in trade policy, while workers are pushing for another, and then suggesting that they would take the side of the workers.

Continue reading "How to be a pacesetter on trade" »

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Drinking, Dieting, Industrial Policy

As I recently noted, Ha-Joon Chang is coming out with a book very soon in the US - "Bad Samaritan: Rich Nations, Poor Policies and the threat to the developing world." The book has spawned a sharp debate over at the Financial Times over the desirability of active trade and industrial policies.

After having studied industrial policies myself, I remember being surprised to hear a presenter at the American Enterprise Institute say that "the arguments for industrial policy don't hold up to closer scrutiny." Granted, any argument for or against industrial policy has to be sensitive to local conditions (landlocked Chad is unlikely to build a successful shipbuilding industry, as Martin Wolf notes), so I didn't quite understand what the presenter was referring to... was the statement meant to discredit the boom years of Latin America in the 1960s, Korea in the 1970s, China in the 1990s? It couldn't have been to celebrate the experience of Latin America or Africa for the last quarter century - during which time practically no industrial policies were practiced (except in Chile, as I talk about here.), right?

So I have still been waiting for further clarification from orthodox economists about what is meant by this pooh-poohing of the lessons of history. Here are the arguments, summarized from the FT debate, with the quick and dirty response taken from Ha-Joon:

  • Orthodoxy: Dude, industrial policy is so 19th century. Sanity: Latin America, Asian, and Scandinavian development did not happen in the 19th century, dude.
  • Orthodoxy: Korea didn't use industrial policy (that's why it grew before the late 1970s), except when it did (that's why it didn't grow in the late 1970s, early 1980s). Sanity: That is so 1980s of you. Korea used industrial policy before, during, and after the period in question, and it grew the whole time, except when it didn't, and that was due to a little something called a world recession.
  • Orthodoxy: Free trade is the best! But if you practice free trade and you don't grow, blame it on on some other policy. Sanity: Where are we, Middle Earth?

The whole debate is worth a read, and it is not as idiotic in tone as I have made it seem. But the days when orthodox economists could shove facts under the rug for 20 years is gone, and you can tell it's causing some growing pains. To part, here are some choice Hajoonisms:

  • I feel like a man being accused of promoting a copious consumption of vodka when all I have done is to recommend moderate amount of red wine as a part of balanced diet.
  • It may be possible to dismiss the US as an "exception", but if there are another two dozen countries that have to be dismissed as "exceptions", then the theory has simply too many holes (the exercise reminds me of the pre-Copernican practice of drawing "epi-circles" in order to square evidence with geo-centrism).
  • I think it is wrong to dismiss one’s opponent’s theory by labelling them with negative words (‘nineteenth-century’). How would Alan feel if I described him and his colleagues as "defenders of free-trade theory that was so strongly advocated by American slave-owners and opium-trafficking British imperialists"?
  • I am a man whose book recommending the Mediterranean diet has been reviewed by a well-known anti-fat dietician, who unintentionally misrepresented me as praising beneficial qualities of all fats, when I had only praised olive oil. This was bad enough, but then a few other anti-fat dieticians read the review, go into a Pavlovian reaction on seeing the word, "fat", and accuse me of promoting excessive consumption of all fats, brandishing American obesity figures and Scottish heart-attack statistics. I regretfully have come to conclusion that I was absolutely right to say what I said at the end of chapter three in the book – "Trade is simply too important for economic development to be left to free trade economists".
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Fair Traders Dominate Hill's 50 Most Beautiful People

Ellsworth300 As we reported last November, fair trade is winning big - and not just in the elections. The Hill just released its fourth-annual list of the 50 Most Beautiful People on Capitol Hill. Interestingly enough, 100% of the senators and the majority of the representatives on the list are fair traders, with the most beautiful person on Capitol Hill none other than Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind., picture to the right from the DCCC), who campaigned last year with a lot of fair trade love:

Bad trade agreements and corporate giveaways are just sweetheart deals for big corporations that don’t need them.

Other notable fair traders include Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). According to the Hill,

"Sherrod Brown’s combination of rumpled cool and passionate progressivism makes him the unsung beauty of the upper could a woman not fall for an workers’-rights advocate who wears a pin with a canary in a cage instead of the ubiquitous American flag?"

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Push the candidates farther on trade issues

We have a new action item out. Click here to take action. Here's an excerpt from our latest:

After seeing what a powerful issue fair trade was in the 2006 elections, you'd think that our failed trade and globalization policies - and how to replace them - would be a top agenda item for presidential candidates. After all, last November the Democrats picked up two House seats each in Iowa and New Hampshire with candidates running on trade.

While it's true that John Edwards and then later Hillary Clinton have come out against the proposed NAFTA expansion to South Korea, what about the NAFTA expansion deals to Peru, Panama and Colombia? What do they think about the undemocratic "Fast Track" trade negotiating process? Do they have a clear vision for how to make a clean break with NAFTA-style policies of the past? What is their plan to deal with WTO? China trade?

We need to get presidential candidates on the record now on the important trade and globalization policies with which the next President must grapple. And, with two imminent debates asking for the public to help create the questions for the candidates, now you have a chance to do so.

This comes on the same day as some interesting news reports on the Edwards campaign's plan to unveil policy proposals on trade and globalization. Jonathan Tasini has the write-up here.

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Just for fun...

It's a congressional recess week, so all the action right now is in the districts. For you people in DC, here's an entertaining way to pass a few minutes: "The Fellowship of the Ring of Free Trade." (Of course, like any YouTube video, half the entertainment is in the comments.)

(There's also a "sequel" here, not available on YouTube presumably for copyright reasons...)

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Deflating the $500 billion number

Since 2005, a lot of pundits have been throwing around the following number:

Harvard's Dani Rodrik, a long-standing globalization skeptic, argued recently that "closed markets may have been a fundamental problem during the 1950s and 1960s; it is hard to believe they still are." But this complacency is wrong. The Peterson Institute for International Economics calculates that the removal of remaining trade barriers would boost U.S. income by $500 billion a year. Whether or not you accept this particular number, there's no doubt further liberalization can unlock huge benefits.

As it turns out, this number is totally bogus, finds L. Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute in a recent brief. Among Josh's findings:

  • The mainstream estimates done by the U.S. government and World Bank -- even in their most optimistic models, and Josh runs some numbers even more "optimistic" still -- find gains from trade that are less than 5 percent of the $500 billion figure found by Peterson.
  • The methodology that Peterson used "are premised overwhelmingly on the assumption that barriers to trade exist even when no explicit price or quantity restrictions on imports or foreign investment can be identified."
  • Finally, rather than relying on the trade theory that has been standard for over half a century that predicts the wage stagnation of the U.S. workforce that we have (in fact) seen over the period, Peterson examines "only those workers directly displaced by trade. This group generally never shows up in most trade theories, which assume full-employment always and everywhere. Displacement, in short, while a real-world problem, is decidedly not the biggest cause of income losses due to trade and trade liberalization. Rather, the largest cost from trade is the permanent and steady drag on the wages of all American workers whose education and skills resemble those displaced by trade. Waitresses, for example, do not generally lose their jobs due to trade, but their pay suffers as workers displaced from tradeable goods industries crowd into their labor market and bid down wages. Not acknowledging these wage costs is a very good way to minimize the total debit column in the balance sheet of globalization’s impact on American workers."
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Lawyers talk about outsourcing (this makes me feel dirty)

Via BusinessWeek is this gem: the IT industry folks are all over the H-1B issue, and they've produced a YouTube video (that has been viewed over 50,000 times) showing lawyers discussing how to exploit loopholes in the law to outsource jobs and save labor costs. These folks go through a step-by-step process on how to pretend to seek U.S. workers (as required by U.S. law) while actually finding any possible way to disqualify them in favor of hiring cheaper outsourced labor. Some choice quotes:

  • "Our goal is clearly not to find a qualified and interested U.S. worker."
  • "If necessary [to disqualify a U.S. job-seeker from the recruitment process], schedule an interview, go through the whole process, to find a legal basis to disqualify them for this particular position. In most cases, that doesn't seem to be a problem."

Just watching this YouTube clip (below) makes me want to go wash my hands. The lack of shame is amazing. I suspect this law firm will get in a bit of hot water as a result of the video, but a real fix for this problem would have to involve far more than pointing a finger at a law firm and a company or two. It would also have to address, at the very least, taking out the de facto immigration policy (in the form of, for instance, the WTO GATS' "Mode 4") in our trade agreements; and on a deeper level, the broader topic of wage arbitrage and the race to the bottom in wages and labor standards. That's the real issue, rather than the "is-it-xenophobia-or-corporate-greed? debate" that InformationWeek thinks is the relevant one.

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Bono takes it personal and makes it personal

It's a little off of our general beat here at Eyes on Trade, but there's been some pretty funny coverage of an outburst by Irish rocker Bono at a recent conference on foreign aid.

Bushbono2 When scholars at the conference rightfully pointed out that no country has ever developed on the basis of foreign aid, Bono heckled some choice words from the audience.

He went on to say: "You'd think somebody farted in here when the words 'debt relief' came up - ooh, debt relief, that's so uncool," and praised U.S. Cold War strategery in Europe, and Ireland's low taxes - a pretty funny aside, since Bono and fellow bandmates have caught flack back home for tax avoidance.

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Sneaky catfishes

BNA reports (sorry, not linkable):

The Department of Justice announced June 7 the arrest of David S. Wong and David Chu for allegedly conspiring to deceive customs agents by falsely labeling catfish to be imported into the United States (United States v. Virginia Seafood Corp.,C.D. Cal.,No. 2:07-cr-00449,indictment 5/24/07).

The indictment, which was returned on May 24 by a federal grand jury in the Central District of California, charges 10 seafood companies and six individuals "for a scheme to import millions of pounds of falsely labeled Vietnamese catfish into the United States," the Justice Department said in a June 7 press release.

Between June 2004 and June 2005, Virginia Star Seafood Corp. and International Sea Products Corp. illegally imported over 10 million pounds of Vietnamese catfish falsely labeled as sole, grouper, flounder, and conger pike, according to the indictment. The indictment alleges that the seafood companies conspired to deceived Customs and Border Protection officials.

There's two ways to look at this. Economic libertarians would say that having any such labeling requirement invites this kind of attempt to evade the law. Parents of children, however, would say that we have a right to know what's going on our dinner table. Says Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.) summed up what many fair traders are thinking, especially after Alabama banned the sale of catfish imported from China after 14 of 20 samples tested positive for fluoroquinolones - a banned antibiotic:

Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.) in May sent a letter to FDA calling for tougher inspection standards for catfish imported from China. "It is alarming that only 1.3 percent of imported fish, fruit, and vegetables are currently inspected," Davis said in the letter. "The FDA, the federal agency with responsibility for the safety of 80 percent of the food supply, needs to take the lead in maintaining a rigorous, flexible, and transparent food safety process."

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Growth accounting

For those who like to make simple connections between trade policy and growth, it don't get much simplisher than this:

In the first quarter, trade subtracted a full point from the G.D.P., which expanded just 0.6 percent, the slowest in more than four years. While trade has occasionally aided growth for a quarter, it has not added to a full year’s growth since 1995.

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Globalization (finally) Understood

Today, the Wall Street Journal joined the ranks of Ralph Gomory and Alan Blinder with the front page story, "Globalization's Gains Come with a Price," (subscription site) admitting (possibly for the very first time) the high costs of globalization to people in the United States and around the world:

Many developing nations seem to be following in the footsteps of the U.S., where the income gap has grown sharply since the early 1970s. A 2006 study of Latin America, a region long marked by profound gaps between rich and poor, by World Bank economists Guillermo Perry and Marcelo Olarreaga found that the income divide deepened after economic liberalization in nine of the 12 countries examined.

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On Jordan Standard and Bush's Corporate "wink and a nod"

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) was on CNN last night talking about the state of play on the Deathstar Deal, and had this to say:

I think the comment from some individual leaders in the Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers is that they're kind of getting a wink and a nod fromDeathstarjpgw300h265 Secretary Schwab - the U.S. trade rep Schwab saying and perhaps Secretary Paulson saying well, these standards look good, labor will be happy, environmentalists look happy, they are good in terms of the substance. But they know they are not going to be enforced. We went through this with Jordan in 2000. Congress passed a Jordan trade agreement. It's one I voted for because it had strong labor and environmental standards. It has not been enforced and Jordan has become a sweat shop for that part of Asia. With Bangladeshi workers working there producing all kinds of apparel that ends up in our country, duty free, products of sweat shops.

The Jordan FTA is an important piece of evidence as people consider the Deathstar Deal. Consider the following:

Continue reading "On Jordan Standard and Bush's Corporate "wink and a nod"" »

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New World Poll on International Trade

In a new poll by World Public Opinion, released in collaboration with The Chicago Council on Global Affairs that tracked attitudes of respondents in 18 countries and the Palestinian Territories, there is overwhelming support for environmental and labor standards in trade agreements.

This popular sentiment has been influential in transforming the trade debate from whether to include labor and environmental standards in trade pacts to how to include labor and environmental standards and this most recent poll proves it.

And as Bloomberg's Mark Drajem notes, (not linkable) "In the U.S., two-thirds of those polled said trade is harmful for workers' job security and 60 percent called it detrimental for job creation."

The specific questions in the poll are much more useful than standard polling questions, which really only test people's responses to corporate buzz words like "freedom" (as in free trade), rather than on the rules and effect of real world trade policy, which is anything but "free."

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Obama: Making Trade Too Complex?

Yesterday, Barack Obama gave his first big foreign policy speech as a presidential candidate.

He says about trade:

We cannot negotiate trade agreements to help spur development in poor countries so long as we provide no meaningful help to working Americans burdened by the dislocations of the global economy.

This statement sounds harmless enough, but what exactly is it saying? What exactly is the connection between trade and development? The coded sentence may refer to WTO negotiations, which corporate lobbies have argued will help development in poor countries. But the civil societies of these poor countries do not agree, and the World Bank's own data (PDF) - when coupled with UN projections on government revenue losses - show that the poorest countries under the WTO's Doha "development" Round will be net losers.

And the greatest impact on U.S. workers from current trade policy is NOT those that are dislocated - actually losing their job - but on the entirety of the workforce that sees stagnant wages and rising inequality (PDF). Bob Kuttner of the American Prospect recently wrote that it would take $2 trillion to adequately retool the American social safety net to deal with trade's impact. Is that in one of Obama's position papers? We'll be waiting.

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Everyone's Talking about Trade: Blog Roundup

Everyone is talking about trade these days.

Check it out:

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In honor of Jim Jontz, fair trade hero

Jim Jontz, an indefatigable advocate for economic and social justice and the environment, was a mentor and inspiration to many. His passing is an enormous personal loss to all of those whose lives this gentle, brilliant man touched.

But, by nature of the quality of Jim's personality and what his life’s work accomplished, his mission and his values live on. As a member of Congress, Jim was an organizer extraordinaire - always providing strategy and a plan, often from a corner of the Rayburn room off the floor of the House where his allies awaited his wisdom between votes. As the first Executive Director of the Citizens Trade Campaign, the national labor, environmental, consumer, family farm and faith coalition, Jim was an organizer extraordinaire helping to visualize and then create the nation's powerful fair trade movement. As leader of several environmental organizations, Jim was an organizer extraordinaire delivering real victory for the planet and its inhabitants. In creating the Working Families Win project for Americans for Democratic Action, Jim was an organizer extraordinaire creating from scratch an impressive program that has transformed the tone of U.S. political discourse on economic and social justice issues.

Because he taught by example and mentored countless young people, he is survived by legions of those who aspire to replicate his tireless, passionate and fearless advocacy for what is right. Jim Jontz raised a "family" of advocates who join him in living Margaret Mead's proverb: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Please see Jim's obituaries by the Associated Press and at the Indianapolis Star.

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Corporate Lobbyists Hate Americans

Today, interesting news in CongressDaily's Balance of Payments - Trade Limbo (sorry, not linkable), a discussion of the labor standards negotiations for the pending trade agreements. In discussion of groups opposed to adding labor standards to the agreements, Martin Vaughan reports,

Several groups, including the U.S. Council for International Business and Emergency Committee for American Trade, have circulated papers outlining their objections to Democratic proposals on labor, and are making clear that they would prefer to see the trade agenda collapse than accept those demands.

Hmm, these corporate lobbyists must hate working Americans pretty bad that they would rather lose their own jobs of furthering a destructive trade agenda than allow other Americans more protections at their own jobs.

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Women and Trade

More-of-the-same failed trade policies are hurting everybody, but these bad trade policies have a disproportionately negative effect on women. Not surprisingly, women's organizations are increasingly weighing in on trade issues and signing on to change the direction of trade policy (PDF).

Check out this document outlining why more-of-the-same trade policies have proven harmful, especially to women, and why Trade Is A Women's Issue (PDF).

Especially disturbing is that under agreements such as NAFTA, with their unenforceable labor provisions, basically anything is allowable (emphasis added):

NAFTA has locked in a model of unenforceable labor and human rights in the EPZs [Export Processing Zones], wherein women face such threats as on the job discrimination, sexual harassment, and violence. Women workers in many factories in Mexico have reported rampant physical abuse and sexual harassment. In addition, mandatory pregnancy testing as a condition for employment is often standard practice.

Women have a strong interest in making sure this Congress changes the direction on trade policy. This is an important opportunity for women's organizations to broaden their focus from restricted motherhood choice, sexual harassment and workplace abuse at home to participate in changing a set of policies that allow this same unfortunate discriminatory treatment abroad. Participating in the trade policy debate provides a chance to make a real difference in the lives of women all around the world.

To learn more about gender and trade, visit the International Trade and Gender Network.

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U.S. foods deficit shifting political realities on trade

One of the big policy issues in debates about economic development (mostly for poor countries) surrounds the issue of food security and sovereignty. Food First and other groups have brought a lot of attention to what happens when agribusiness in both rich and poor countries undermine a country's ability to feed itself.

Believe it or not, food deficits are not just an issue for poor countries anymore. The United States too has been on the verge of an overall agricultural trade deficit (defined as most things that grow out of the earth plus animals minus lumber and fisheries) for several years - much to the contrary of the vision of America's role in the global trading system sold to U.S. farmers.

Continue reading "U.S. foods deficit shifting political realities on trade" »

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On Moustachioed Elitists

The papers are a'tizzy over the baby steps that the Bush administration is taking to rectify the China trade imbalance. Witness the Times:

"But rather than posturing, the White House would do better if it educated Americans about free trade’s benefits, which include cheaper clothes, televisions and cars, all of which hold down inflation."

This line is becoming extremely common-place in the post election season, when scores of House and Senate seats flipped to the fair trade column. Aside from the numerous factual missteps in the piece (Dean Baker schools the Times over at Beat the Press, where a lively conversation about what inputs really go into Boeing's planes is taking place), the elitism of this kind of a notion is really striking.

Lebon_foto_2 It recalls 19th century "crowd theory" - witness Gustave Le Bon on the French Revolution:

Continue reading "On Moustachioed Elitists" »

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What does NAFTA have to do with marriage?


How often is it that NAFTA comes up in the New York Times featured weddings? Not very often. But this past week our very own Todd Tucker made it so. He is too humble to make note of it himself, but we at GTW would like to take this opportunity to draw attention to the happy occasion. Sunday Times, April 1st:

"The bridegroom, 28, is the research director of the global trade watch division of Public Citizen, specializing in the legal, economic and political consequences of trade agreements, including Nafta."

Congratulations Todd! The day will be remembered by Tuckers, Bousheys and trade wonks the world over.

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Taking important steps, but no acceptable Fast Track

Trade news today focused on the Charles Rangel - Sander Levin proposal to make certain limited changes to flawed trade pacts that the Bush administration has already negotiated. You can read the some teasers on the proposal here.

GTW director Lori Wallach had some analysis of the Rangel-Levin proposal:

Trying to ameliorate the problems in a Bush trade agreement is no small task, and from what can be gleaned from the available summary of trade principles released today by Democratic Ways and Means leaders, this proposal takes important steps towards that goal by demanding changes to some of the worst aspects of the Peru and Panama Free Trade Agreements. However, it excludes several serious issues that also must be remedied in these pacts.

But so far, the full proposal being sent to the Bush administration has not been released. Although it was summarized at a Democratic Caucus meeting, Democratic lawmakers did not have an opportunity to discuss the proposal at the meeting, as the session moved quickly to other business after the presentation was concluded.

Given the level of distrust that the American public has for this White House and the passionate opposition among the Democratic base for both Fast Track and President Bush, there is no prospect the new Democratic majority would provide the president with more Fast Track authority - which means in the future there should be no need for trying to limit the damage of Bush NAFTA-style trade agreements.

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We're keeping our eyes on trade and globalization policy

Were you in on the biggest slap-down of corporate globalization to hit the United States since Seattle? No tear gas involved — if you voted in 2006, you probably helped deliver the biggest fair trade mandate in Congress of all time. Seriously, 30 Representatives and seven Senators who campaigned on changing our failed trade and globalization policies just replaced a parcel of NAFTA-loving, WTO-worshipping, Fast Track-fancying ex-incumbents.

And now, public citizens from New Hampshire to Hawaii, it’s time to help these newly elected members make good on change! This is the moment — we now have the power to ash bin the NAFTA-WTO model that has undermined democracy, livelihoods and the environment in the United States and around the world. And replace that failed model with rules for the global economy that work for the majority.

The stakes are very high. At home, inequality is at levels not seen since the Robber Baron era, as the average American’s inflation-adjusted hourly wages are only a nickel higher than in 1973, and no serious economist disputes that trade plays a major role in those trends. The public understands these dire trends: less than a third of Americans say they expect their kids to be better off economically than they themselves are. And, in poor countries, hunger and $1-per-day grinding poverty is increasing. Meanwhile, “trade” agreements invade our democratic space like some quiet slow motion coup de état — messing with everything (PDF) from food safety and medicine prices to basic environmental protections to immigration policy.

Growing anger about the painful lived experience of the failed status quo — and years of hard organizing work — have created a precious window of opportunity for change.

In that spirit, some friends at Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch division and I have inaugurated — the online community in which you are currently participating. Through this medium, I hope we can help each other stay on top of the top globalization and trade news of the day and strategize together about how we can unite and empower ourselves — the majority on the losing end of the trade-globalization status quo — to turn this mess around.

So, welcome to a new gathering place for people interested in understanding the globalization and trade debate beyond just the day’s headlines, and who want to fight for fair trade and global justice. Across America and the world, millions of working people, farmers, youth, activists of all stripes, artists and critical minds have useful knowledge and inspiring lessons to share.

Please make a regular part of your online diet, and check back regularly for new opportunities to collaborate with like-minded people on the journey to make a better world.

Lori Wallach
Director, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch division

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