AEI Panel Discussion about the bipartisan trade deal – Continued

Kimberly Ann Elliot, senior fellow with the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics, contended that labor and environmental standards do have role to play, but that the FTAs are too intrusive as they are now. She claimed that the US does not do anything to have a true positive effect on the actual enforcement of labor laws. It is indeed anti-democratic and patronizing to force democracies to adopt certain standards by FTAs. However, she did not want to say that the the agreements was not worth the deal.

The person with the most libertarian approach to trade was Avind Panagariya, Jagdish Bhagwati Professor of Indian Political Economy at Columbia University. He contended that most of the partners the US has chosen are not the ones to choose if we actually want to improve free trade. If this was the case, we should focus on larger nations like Brazil and China. The FTAs might actually work against the case of free trade by constantly forcing further rounds of domestic debate about each successive agreement. He opposed the view that FTAs should be used to improve labor and environmental standards.

Warren. H. Maruyama, the general counsel of the USTR, claimed that the new FTAs are better than nothing. He emphasized that in the current political context, the Bush Administration’s concession to the Democrats were necessary. He also mentioned that the US already complies by the environmental agreements included in the deal. He emphasized that if the deal had not been made, US trade would suffer, important allies in Latin America and South East Asia would be humiliated, and US’s attempts of promoting the rule of law abroad go down the drain.

The question is, isn’t the US humiliating its allies by claiming that it does not respect other countries democratic processes when it comes to labor and environmental standards? Trade with countries and let the creation of wealth be the engine for improved labor and environmental standards.