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OpenMarket: Trade and International

  • Nicaragua Objects to U.S. Cigar Tax Increase

    August 13, 2007
    Nicaragua's legislature has objected to proposed increases in U.S. cigar taxes, which would raise the tax on some premium cigars from 5 cents to $10. It says that 70,000 to 100,000 workers in the country's cigar industry would be adversely affected by the tax increase, worsening poverty in a country still recovering from a civil war and the Marxist dictatorship that ruled the country in the 1980s. The cigar tax increase is intended to play a small part in funding health care in the U.S. for children in certain households making up to $100,000 per year.
  • UN Group Rejects Precautionary Principle

    August 8, 2007
    The Codex Alimentarius Commission, a joint UN Food and Agricultural Organization-World Health Organization food safety standard-setting body, has apparently agreed to exclude the precautionary principle from its risk analysis standards, despite intense lobbying by the European Union and green groups. The initial proposal, which has been under consideration by the Codex for roughly six years, would have allowed governments to take "preventative measures" to ban certain foods in cases where scientific evidence regarding safety is "uncertain." But, in addition to serving as a huge roadblock to innovation, the precautionary principle is seen (correctly, in my estimation) by many as a tool to support unjustified trade barriers....
  • "Fisher Price mining tools"

    July 26, 2007
    Pundits discuss the merits of preserving traditional cultures....well, not really -- from the Onion News Network, strategies for making poor Africans feel good about their poverty.
  • One Out of Two Ain't Bad

    July 20, 2007
    I'm pleased to report that Al Gore is innocent of charges of hypocrisy related to serving Chilean Sea Bass at his daughter's wedding celebrations. The Bass, more properly known as the Patagonian Toothfish, is primarily endangered because of the massive tragedy of the commons in deep sea fisheries that exists almost solely because of government subsidies. However, not only was the fish served at his daughter's rehearsal dinner, where the groom's parents generally pay, but the fish itself originated from a properly-managed fishery overseen by the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. Al Gore is certainly a divisive figure, but this charge against him simply will not stick. On the other hand, we learn from...
  • Price signals don't lie

    July 3, 2007
    And today in Nigeria they bring some needed, and rare, good news in an otherwise dismal situation:
    The price of machetes has halved in parts of Nigeria since the end of general elections in April because demand from thugs sponsored by politicians has subsided, the state-owned News Agency of Nigeria reported.
    When things get so bad that political violence becomes routine, any news of its reduction -- however qualified -- is welcome.
  • AEI Panel Discussion about the bipartisan trade deal - Continued

    June 30, 2007
    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...
  • AEI panel discussion about FTAs in the aftermath of the bipartisan deal

    June 28, 2007
    In the aftermath of the bipartisan deal between the Democrats and the Bush Administration, the question is whether the new enforceable environmental and ILO labor standards that are included in FTAs are the tipping point where they are overstretching into domestic affairs. Yesterday, AEI held an interesting panel discussion about this called “The Bipartisan Trade Bargain: Is the Deal Worth It?” According to Jack K. Veroneau, deputy United States trade representative, the answer is no. We had the same discussion when the Jordan FTA was negotiated in which both the US and Jordan committed themselves to enforce domestic laws. This was not the end of the world as many conservative commentators contended, and so will these provisions not be a problem. We need the labor provisions to offset disruptive effects of...
  • Progressives engage in globalization debate

    June 26, 2007
    The Democratic Leadership Council — home to progressive Democrats -- last week announced a new Global Economy Project, whose mission is —
    . . . to develop progressive national policies designed to help preserve America's role as the global economic leader in the 2010s, and to help workers and families manage the stresses and take advantage of the opportunities created by the rapidly evolving global economy.
    Now, I'm somewhat skeptical of Progressives' history in the U.S. of using government institutions managed by the intellectual elite as their means-to-the-ends of a better, fairer society. (See just one of Fred Smith's many writings on this topic.) However, I'm a bit encouraged by the DLC's new project that seems to challenge...
  • Sarkocialism

    June 22, 2007
    The ONLY good thing about the EU in my opinion has been its commitment to a single market and attacks on state aid. The harmonization policy is a significant downside to that, of course, in that it works against jurisdictional competition, but the EU has helped get rid of a lot of horrible subsidy and protectionism in Europe. Looks like those days are over:
    A reference to "free and undistorted competition" was pulled from the draft after French pressure late on Thursday.The new text talks of a "social market economy aiming at full employment". The French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, used a late night press conference to confirm that the EU's 50 year old commitment to an "open market economy with free competition" had been dropped from the draft treaty. "There was some play on that, but today's Presidency...

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