Perspective on trade in the Obama Administration

During the presidential primaries and in the campaigns, there was a lot of rhetoric about the need for “fair” trade instead of free trade. Candidates were in a populist mode, catering to critical manufacturing states that have lost jobs and serving up trade as the villain.

Now that Senator Barack Obama is the President-elect, there is renewed speculation on what path his administration will take on international trade. Will he make good on his campaign rhetoric that echoed the Democratic platform’s call for renegotiation of trade agreements to include even more stringent labor and environmental standards? Will he continue to hold up pending trade agreements with close U.S. allies? Will he embrace isolationism and protectionism or adapt to geopolitical realities?

In a new C:\Spin publication, I provide some perspective on the outlook for trade in the Obama Administration. I opine that President Obama will face enormous pressure to make good on some of his campaign promises on trade.  But, with his top-notch economic advisers, he may pull back from drastic anti-trade actions that would harm the fragile economy and alienate U.S. allies and trading partners.