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Trade

November 19, 2014

Can President Obama Work with the Republican Congress on Trade?

An obvious question after the sweeping Republican election win is: “What hope is there for constructive outcomes between President Obama and the Republican Congress during the next two years?”

President Obama and Republican leaders have both answered this question with at least one answer in common: Trade policy. New Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that he and the President have already discussed trade as one area of possible cooperation,

There now appears to be a renewed possibility of Republicans passing fast track trade promotion authority early in the new Congress, which would revitalize trade negotiations such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other agreements. In general, it’s fair to say that Republicans are more favorably inclined toward trade liberalization than are Democrats, which is at least part of why Democrat Senate leader Harry Reid went out of his way to kill any possibility of progress on trade agreements early in 2014.

Support for freer trade has always been a hallmark of free-market conservative philosophy, although Republicans have also occasionally been guilty of protectionism, and there seems to be a disturbing distrust of free trade among some in the Tea Party movement that policy thought leaders like IPI will be addressing as part of our trade policy program. Ultimately, the evidence is overwhelming that freer trade leads to more economic efficiency and to greater job creation in areas of each nation’s competitive advantage. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

October 14, 2014

Ending Sugar Subsidies the Right (the Only?) Way

Because of our interest in trade policy and general opposition to government subsidies and other interference in private markets, we’ve done a few pieces on the issue of sugar subsidies, and lately about the best way to phase them out.

About this time last year we released “Solving the Sugar Subsidy Problem,” which outlined the basics of the issue and suggested that the solution must be some sort of global trade pact, most likely through a World Trade Organization (WTO) process.

And this past May we released “Seeking a Global Solution in Sugar Trade Policy,” which explained some of the enormous sugar subsidies and other trade distortions common to trading partners like Brazil, India, Mexico and Thailand. In the face of such global subsidies, only a global solution is probably workable.

Otherwise, you simply allow subsidized foreign competition to destroy our domestic sugar industry, after which time you could expect foreign suppliers to ratchet back up the price, as we explained.

Last week, Americans for Limited Government released a new paper reviewing the material on foreign sugar subsidies by those same four major producers (India, Thailand, Mexico and Brazil), and essentially pleading for free-traders and free-market promoters to embrace the global agreement model, as outlined by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL).

Essentially, the Yoho “zero-for-zero” proposal is a commitment by the U.S. that we would eliminate all our sugar subsidy programs if our trading partners would agree to come to a similar agreement. The Yoho plan would require some sort of trade agreement, either a bilateral or multilateral “Sugar FTA” or a WTO agreement. But, under Yoho’s plan, the U.S. takes the first step by making the commitment.

The alternatives are to either leave in place the status quo, which free-marketers and free-traders oppose, or unilateral disarmament, which free-marketers and free-traders (I argue) SHOULD oppose. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

September 23, 2014

Yes, Of Course, In Trade Agreements, the Devil Is In the Details

Simon Lester, who I met earlier this year speaking at a Cato event, has a blog up over at Cato at Liberty giving a somewhat nuanced response to my new IPI Ideas on including IP protection in trade agreements.

His point, essentially, is that I'm being very general rather than granular in my argument. And he's completely right, of course. My argument in the piece IS a general argument; namely, that it's appropriate and important to include IP in trade agreements.

And, in fact, my general argument in favor is a response to the general argument that is being made by many, including Cato personnel, that IP should NOT be included in trade agreements. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

September 19, 2014

U.S. Petroleum Exports Up, Crude Oil Imports Down

We've spoken several times about how the United States has the potential to become energy self-sufficient through the shale revolution. Indeed, the U.S. could become the world's #1 exporter of energy, if the right policies are put into place.

As evidence that this is beginning to happen, Bloomberg reports that, in August, U.S. exports of petroleum hit record highs, and imports of crude oil hit record lows.

U.S. exports of petroleum products reached a record in August for the month as refiners boosted rates, the American Petroleum Institute said. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

September 16, 2014

We're Flaring (Wasting) Shale Gas Because We Can't Export It

I have one of those "Earth at Night" maps from National Geographic on a wall in IPI's offices. Among the things it shows is places in Russia, the Middle East and East Africa that seem to be on fire. That's flaring--the burning off of gas or oil because for one reason or another it isn't being captured and refined.

Most of the time this is because of inefficient operations, lack of pipelines, etc. But according to a piece a few days ago in the San Antonio Express-News, there's quite a bit of flaring going on in U.S. shale formations like the Eagle Ford.

The article is reasonably fair and balanced, but, as Jon Cassidy at Watchdog.org points out, the main reason for flaring in the U.S. is the federal export ban on oil & natural gas.

There is one key fact, however, that went missing from the series, which explains a lot of what’s going on. If the reporters knew of it, they may have just decided it was beyond the scope of their story. It’s this: low natural gas prices are not some inalterable fact of the free market. They are largely the result of a federal ban on natural gas exports that dates back to the Arab Oil Embargo. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

August 22, 2014

The One-Two Punch Against American Agriculture

It’s almost as if it is official U.S. policy to make it difficult for American businesses to succeed.

First and most significantly, we subject American businesses to the highest tax rates among all of our competitors—39.1% when you add in state taxes. That’s significantly higher than the O.E.C.D average of 25 percent, and it’s even higher than the supposedly “high tax European countries”—consider that Belgium (34 percent), France (34.4 percent), and Sweden (22 percent) all have lower business taxes than does the United States.

Then, at least for select industries, we aid their overseas competitors. Through the Export-Import Bank we finance foreign purchases of Boeing jets, which helps foreign competitors of Delta, Southwest, American, FedEx and UPS. We could solve that problem this year by simply allowing Ex-Im to expire.

We allow other of our domestic industries to be exposed to blatant market manipulation and outright attack by our trading partners, particularly in agriculture. Yes, American agriculture policy is a rats nest of loans, supports and protections that are hard to justify in a free-market economy, and conservatives recognize these as market distorting. Of course we should move toward phasing out these protections. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

June 17, 2014

Export-Import Bank loaning money to drug cartels

In an op/ed published Wednesday in the Dallas Morning News I argue that Republicans should let the Export-Import Bank expire instead of reauthorizing it.

In the piece, I mention a charge that the Export-Import Bank may have loaned money to Mexican drug cartels.

Of course, you can't put hyperlinks or footnotes in op/eds. So here's the source of that little factoid from 2007, compliments of the Wayback Machine.

DALLAS - A News 8 investigation has found that a little known government agency may have unwittingly wasted taxpayers money on top of using the funds to support criminal activity.

The probe originally revealed that small business loans sponsored by the Export-Import Bank of the United States were made to non-existing companies for equipment that wasn't even real.

Now, New 8 has discovered that some of the people who got the Ex-Im Bank loans may have drug connections. The $243 million worth of bad loans were originally made to help trade with Mexico.

The loans have been linked to the Juarez drug cartel, which is known for its brutal murders. The cartel killed one dozen people and buried them in a suburban backyard across the border fro El Paso.

Another loan was linked to the Sinaloa drug cartel, whose business is smuggling heroin into the United States.

The federally funded Ex-Im Bank apparently backed loans to people affiliated with both cartels and the Mexican drug trade.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, News 8 asked for all documentation related to defaulted small business loans made to Mexico from 2002 to 2005. Although there were nearly 200 bad loans, so far, information on only 34 cases has been turned over.

But the bank did give a list of the defaulted loans and the names and addresses of the people who got them in Mexico.

"They have drug connections, which is very disheartening to think that the U.S. government is lending money to documented traffickers in the drug trade that are tied into the cartels in Mexico," said Phil Jordan, the former head of the El Paso Intelligence Center for the DEA and Border Patrol in El Paso.

Jordan ran background checks of the borrowers with two federal sources and found borrowers from Juarez and Sinaloa with criminal ties to money laundering, organized crime or drugs in Mexico. Jordan said he was surprised to find that the Ex-Im Bank didn't do similar checks before guaranteeing the loans. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

June 12, 2014

Ireland Plain Packaging Regulation Misguided, Harmful

Posted by Erin Humiston | Comments

April 7, 2014

Sen. Mike Lee Agrees with IPI on Ending the Ex-Im Bank

Great piece in National Review today by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) on eliminating the Export-Import Bank.

I couldn't have said it any better, Senator Lee, though I did try.

Several times. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

March 21, 2014

Speaking at Cato on IP in the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Tom at Cato on IP in the TPPI had the privilege of speaking a couple of weeks ago at a Cato Institute briefing on whether it is wise or appropriate to include intellectual property protection in trade agreements, specifically in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the major trade agreement that is currently in a pretty vital stage of negotiation. The name of the event was "Intellectual Property in the Trans-Pacific Partnership: National Interest or Corporate Handout?" It was kind of Bill Watson at Cato to invite me to participate, and you can see the video of the event on Cato's website here. You can also see my Powerpoint slide deck here.

My role at the event was to speak from the perspective that intellectual property protections should be part of such trade agreements. I was in the definite minority, as both the other two panelists and the moderator are all skeptical of IP protection in general, and certainly don't think we should be using trade agreements as leverage to ask our trading partners to raise their IP protection standards. But I was happy to play that role. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

February 10, 2014

US Files WTO Complaint Against India's Domestic Content Requirements for Solar Panels

Today, the U.S. filed an official complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against India for its domestic content requirements for solar panels.

Domestic content requirements are prohibited in most cases under WTO agreements.

Of course, the details of this dispute relevant to the solar panel industry are important. But this dispute takes place in a much wider trade dispute context in which India has been purposely ignoring and violating the rights of intellectual property rights holders as part of their domestic industrial policy. Particularly in the area of prescription drug patents.

As Sally Pipes writes in Forbes:

Over the last two years, the Indian government has attacked pharmaceutical patents with increasing aggression. In March 2012, it issued its first “compulsory license” for a kidney-cancer drug made by Bayer AG. A compulsory license allows firms to make generic copies of drugs supposedly still protected by patents in exchange for a licensing fee set by the government. The patent holder has no say in the matter.

Later that year, the Indian government revoked Pfizer’s patent on Sutent, which treats gastrointestinal tumors and advanced kidney cancer. No other country has taken such an action.

And in early 2013, India’s Supreme Court denied patent protection for Glivec, which is used to treat leukemia, despite the fact that it continues to be protected by patents in almost every other country.

To date, India has issued compulsory licenses or revoked patents for eight advanced pharmaceuticals. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

November 17, 2013

The truth about the leaked IP chapter of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

October 30, 2013

Pro-TPP Caucus Formed on the Hill

Today, a new caucus was formed on Capitol Hill in support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

"Friends of the Trans Pacific Partnership" was formed by Congressmen Dave Reichert (R-WA), Ron Kind (D-WI), Charles Boustany (R-LA), and Gregory Meeks (D-NY). Here's a link to the press release from Congressman Reichert.

As the TPP (hopefully) begins to draw toward a successful completion, it's good to see support for the agreement beginning to form on Capitol Hill. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

July 8, 2013

IPI participating this week in TTIP negotiations

This week marks the initial negotiating session for the new Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement, which is a new free trade agreement between the U.S. and the European Union. And IPI will be there.

Like most trade agreements, the goals include lowering tariffs, but because the E.U. countries are for the most part advanced economies, there will be more focus on technical regulations, standards and certifications—all designed to make it easier to sell and ship goods between the U.S. and the E.U.

There’s nearly a $trillion per year in trade between the U.S. and the E.U., but the barriers are such that both sides of the agreement think there are $billions in savings to be achieved by lowering tariffs and otherwise making it easier to do business across the pond. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

May 22, 2013

Special 301 - What's So Special?

Earlier this month, the USTR released this year's Special 301 report. The report is prepared and released annually, identifying trade barriers to U.S. companies doing business in another country because of a lack of "adequate and effective" intellectual property laws, that is, laws, or the lack thereof, that result in inappropriate protection for intellectual property rights.

As a general proposition, this year's report was no surprise.  The list of violators, of those who need to step up their efforts (to say the least), is fairly predictable.

China: "USTR reports grave concerns about misappropriation of trade secrets in China, and incremental progress on a few of China’s many other significant IPR and market access challenges"

Former Russia state, Ukraine: "USTR designates Ukraine a Priority Foreign Country (PFC) under the Special 301 statute due to severe deterioration of enforcement in the areas of government use of pirated software and piracy over the Internet, as well as denial of fair and equitable market access through the authorization and operation of copyright collecting societies" Read More >>

Posted by Bartlett D. Cleland | Comments

 

Total Records: 49

 

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