Trade on the Table

Jim Knisley
March 11, 2010
March 19, 2010 – With the WTO's Doha Round in its ninth year, the U.S. is beginning an internal discussion around what it wants to do about trade.

The question, the New York Times says in a March 10 article , "is whether the United States is prepared to lead the way or whether protectionist pressures will make it all but impossible for the Obama administration to engage fully with the country's trading partners."

That is certainly a pertinent question. Doha is hardly a top of mind issue in the U.S. Meanwhile there are protectionist pressures in the U.S. that have led some to call for the scrapping or renegotiating of NAFTA.

But there is another question that is just as relevant. What happens if the U.S. decides to try and take the lead and others decide they don't like the destination?

That has been so far been the case for large developing economies like Brazil, India and China.

Meanwhile Canada continues to plug away. It is stressing the importance of NAFTA, negotiating a bilateral trade deal with the European Union and maintaining its "balanced" position on agricultural trade at the WTO.

It's hard to see trade as an issue that will move to the top of the American political agenda given high unemployment, a continuing housing crisis and a red-hot debate over health care. But trade is on the table this week. The question is whether it will stay there.

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