April 10, 2013To comply with a World Trade Organization ruling in a tuna-dolphin complaint brought by Mexico, the U.S. proposed new regulations that would tighten the requirements for allowing tuna to be labeled “dolphin safe.”
The proposal was issued for comments by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on April 5. It would revise the Dolphin Protection Consumer...
April 5, 2013I was intrigued with Virginia Postrel’s article today in Bloomberg on a new BBC television show -- “Mr. Selfridge” -- that celebrates retailing and the creation of the modern department store as a place that helped change the role of women. Virginia notes that Émile Zola had much earlier focused on that theme in his late-nineteenth century novel The Ladies’ Paradise, which also is the basis for a new BBC series.
I was intrigued because I had recently read Zola’s Au Bonheur des Dames on a friend’s recommendation and posted this comment January 19 on my Facebook page:
Just finished reading a paean to capitalism's creative destruction --...
April 3, 2013There’s an excellent Letter to the Editor in the Financial Times today (“Trade is now about participation, not competition”), which points out that the mercantilist approach to trade “exports good, imports bad” is an antiquated view given the globalized supply chain for products and services.
The letter states:
Conventionally, nations tend to believe that export is a virtue and import a vice. This mercantilism has lost its relevancy these days since an increasing number of companies, not states, must import various components to export their final products in the global value chains. After all, it is not that nations compete against each other in a game of trade, but that private companies participate in a collective project of...
March 20, 2013Earlier today, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative sent a notice to Congress that the Obama administration would begin negotiating a trade partnership agreement with the European Union. In the letter to House Speaker John Boehner, Acting USTR Demetrios Marantis noted that official talks would begin no earlier than 90 days from the transmittal of the letter.
The agreement would be the largest trade pact to date. The two trade power houses together represent 30 percent of global trade. As the letter stated:
Last year the United States exported $458 billion in goods and services to the EU, estimated to support more than 2.2 million U.S. jobs. The stock of U.S. and EU investment in each other's economy totaled nearly $3.7 trillion in 2011, and EU affiliates in the United...
January 8, 2013A Financial Times article today focuses on possible negotiations for a bilateral trade agreement between the U.S. and the European Union and some of the potential sticking points in completing such a pact. Chief among these, the article notes, are “behind-the-border” domestic regulation, such as differing technical standards in areas such as pharmaceuticals, medical services, and advanced electronics, as well as “safety regimes for conventional cars” and foodstuffs.
In dealing with differing regulatory standards, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce cautioned that the parties, however, shouldn’t aim for full regulatory convergence:
“The aim in many instances is not to drive immediately for full regulatory convergence but to try to make sure that regulators on both sides of...
July 24, 2012CEI joined 11 other groups in a letter today to House Speaker John Boehner urging him not to give in to special interest pressure to push through the bloated 2012 farm bill. Agricultural interests and their cheerleader USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack are using the current drought as a pretext to bring the The Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM) to a quick vote. The bill, passed by the House Agriculture Committee, has a $957 billion price tag.
The coalition letter noted that most farmers currently can take advantage of a highly subsidized safety net of crop insurance and thus there's no need to rush through the bloated and flawed FARRM bill.
Agriculture already has a more than adequate safety net in the gold-plated...
June 20, 2012Excellent commentary in The Washington Post today on the Justice Department’s overreach. Take note -- it appeared in the Sports section in a column by Sally Jenkins. As is typical with Jenkins, she doesn’t pull any punches in describing Justice’s failed prosecution of Roger Clemens for ostensibly lying under oath on his use of steroids. Here’s Jenkins’ take:
Someone in authority at the Justice Department should have said to the federal investigators who pursued Clemens since 2007 on perjury charges, “You don’t have the evidence that can win a conviction.” The government never had a case, and knew it didn’t have a case (or at least should have), and brought the case anyway.
That’s not a prosecution. It’s a persecution....
June 13, 2012It looks like it could begin a trade war -- in airplanes. China has announced that it may impound European Union airplanes in retaliation if the EU seizes their planes because China won’t comply with the EU’s draconian carbon emissions data and trading system.
The EU has imposed a carbon tax on emissions including those from foreign airplanes that land or take off from the EU. What’s really astonishing is that the charges would be made on all emissions from the whole trip, that is, is a plane took off from Beijing and landed in Frankfurt, Germany, the airline would pay the tax for the emissions during the 4,863-mile journey.
According to the EU’s mandate, countries had until March 31 of this year to submit data on their carbon emissions. But Chinese airlines said they are not going to collect and...
June 13, 2012In today’s Wall Street Journal, an editorial sharply criticizes the U.S. sugar program and urges Congress to vote on amendments that would significantly rein in this complex system that doubles the cost of domestic sugar over the world price.
The sugar producers brag that the program operates at “no net cost to the government.” But the government guarantees prices, restricts domestic supply, and imposes stiff tariffs on imported sugar except for quota-holders.
The WSJ notes that the program provides concentrated benefits to sugar producers and dispersed costs to consumers and sugar-using companies:
The program provides about $1.4 billion each year to fewer than 5,000 large and mostly prosperous beet and sugar cane producers. But according to a 2011...
June 6, 2012Trade economist Jagdish Bhagwati’s latest article points out dangers to the world trading system of bilateral and regional trade agreements between unequal partners that establish rules that could erode the World Trade Organization’s influence and add further roadblocks to progress on multilateral trade negotiations.
Bhagwati notes that, through preferential trade agreements, powerful countries like the U.S. are imposing their standards and rules on countries with smaller economies and introducing non-trade-related issues into trade agreements at the behest of special interests. Issues such as labor rights, environmental standards, the ability to impose capital standards are now being extolled as templates for future agreements, even though emerging economies and less developed...