Trade Strategy in the Bush Administration

Remarks at the trade issues forum entitled "Commotion over Trade Promotion: Taking Stock of Domestic and International Views on America's Stake in Global Trade"
Organized by The Global Economic Policy Project
at the New America Foundation

March 19, 2001

1. Zoellick trial strategy: Ensconce TPA legislation (Trade Promotion Authority, also known as "fast track") in a big package-the domestic equivalent of the multi-subject, multi-player Uruguay Round. Possible components:

  • Section 201 steel case (or a quota bill).

  • Bilaterals with Jordan, Singapore, Vietnam, Chile (?), Australia (?).

  • "Values": labor, environment, human rights, pharmaceuticals.

  • Trade Adjustment Assistance, wage insurance.

  • US/EU disputes: bananas, beef, FSC, Airbus, Helms-Burton, ILSA, Kyoto.

  • US-Canada dispute: softwood lumber.

  • Free Trade Area of the Americas and Millennium Round.

2. Blue-dog democratic strategy: Take the issues one by one, starting with steel relief and the Jordan agreement, and ending with TPA.

  • Smaller packages may be acceptable to Zoellick-if there is a clear path (i.e., an accumulation of promised votes) to TPA.

  • Republican Congressmen and Senators may not be willing to accept some of the current proposals on "values" without a close link to TPA.

3. Possible outline for TPA (two-tier approach)

  • First-tier: general approval for trade negotiations, enunciating broad goals, consultation procedures, no-amendment provisions. Long duration authority.
    Second-tier: specific approval for a particular trade negotiation (e.g., US-Singapore bilateral), with time deadline (relatively short).

  • Prior to specific approval, the Administration would submit a report on the "values" of potential partner countries covering both legal standards and enforcement. A congressional commission would make specific recommendations as to how the values ought to be addressed in the course of negotiations. Methods would include financial assistance (World Bank, etc.), technical assistance, local civil remedies, some form of international oversight.

  • In the case of the World Trade Organization, the "values" report and recommendations would necessarily focus on the largest countries, and the countries most out of step.

4. Key meetings in the 2001 agenda (note the possible interactions with the congressional debate).

  • March 30: President Bush, Robert Zoellick, President Cardoso, Celso Lafer.

  • April 6-7: Western Hemisphere Ministerial, Buenos Aires.

  • April 20-21: FTAA Summit, Quebec.

  • June: US/EU Summit, Stockholm. President Bush will attend.

  • July, third week: G-7 Summit, Genoa.

  • October 16: APEC Summit, Shanghai.

  • November 9-13: WTO Ministerial, Qatar.