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Master and Commander or Salesman-in-chief?
Date: 11/10/2010
Written By: Financial Times, By Alan Beattie

Excerpt: Barack Obama: master and commander of the world economy, or merely peripatetic salesman-in-chief? So far, it looks more like the latter. During the president's Asia tour, he has spent more time touting American exports than battering down trade barriers. Mr Obama says the export deal he proudly announced in India, with the spurious mathematical precision often attached to such estimates, would create 54,000 jobs. The US economy generated nearly three times that number last month alone... Negotiators are thrashing out a side letter reassuring American carmakers that Korea will not allow auto standards to become barriers. But enthusiasm for the deal in the new US Congress is still uncertain. In theory, a House of Representatives controlled by the traditionally liberalisation-friendly Republicans should be more willing drive a deal through. But along with the defeat or retirement of several centrist pro-trade deal Democrats in the recent midterm elections, isolationist and anti-corporate rhetoric from the Tea Party movement has some free traders worried. Officials from the National Foreign Trade Council, a business association, bluntly describe the new Congress as "all over the place" on trade issues.