Well, it’s about time. According to Reuters, the progressive Democratic Leadership Council today called upon the next president to focus on the multilateral trading system instead of bilateral deals and to approve the pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea.
Long a supporter of more open trade — with caveats — the DLC and its subgroup, the Progressive Policy Institute, produce some excellent trade-related research that I’ve often mentioned on this blog. Today, the DLC released a report “Winning in the World Economy” endorsing the World Trade Organization’s Doha Round as the top priority for trade in the next administration. While the report does support the pending bilaterals, it noted that anti-union violence in Colombia needs to be addressed as well as market access for autos in Korea, as these are concerns of Congress.
From press accounts, the report also seems to support the “exports-good, imports-bad” mercantilist approach. (The report doesn’t seem to be posted yet on the DLC website.)
During the bitter Democratic primary battles, one couldn’t really expect the DLC and the PPI to criticize the two leading candidates’ positions on trade, even when they escalated their hyperbole on the North America Free Trade Agreement as the bane of American jobs. The PPI, however, did publish a study noting that NAFTA was not responsible for the loss of middle-income jobs.
Now one would hope that this progressive arm of the party would come to the forefront in defending free trade, but without the shackles of non-trade related issues that can restrict the economic growth that trade can bring.