The December 8 edition of CQ Weekly contained a cover story on international trade policy that featured the National Foreign Trade Council, and I thought you might be interested in taking a look at it. It provides a clear and incisive description of what is going on in trade, how the Washington policy community is reacting and how that might change as a new administration takes office. The NFTC has been and will continue to be a key part of that, and it’s nice to see that recognized periodically. Below is an excerpt from the article followed by a link to all of it. Questions or comments? Give me a call (202-887-0278) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Drawing a Fine Line on Trade
Joseph J. Schatz
December 8, 2008
On the wall of his office at the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC), Bill Reinsch displays an old newspaper clipping with an improbable headline: “Free Trade Called Threat to Day Care.”
The article, which Reinsch has next to a map of the world, is a relic of the 1980s, when he was a Senate staffer helping to negotiate a trade pact with Canada, the precursor to the North American Free Trade Agreement. Some Canadians feared that lowering trade barriers with their richer, stronger neighbor would restrict their government’s ability to provide social benefits to workers.
Back then trade was viewed, and discussed, in relatively simple, stark terms. Opponents used whatever ammunition they could find to criticize it, usually pointing to the threat of lost domestic jobs or the erosion of national sovereignty — or even to such seemingly unrelated matters as day care.
Those who favored expanded commerce between countries — such as the NFTC, which was founded by U.S. companies in 1914 — generally prevailed by arguing basic economic principles that date to Adam Smith. The result has been a decades-long stretch of expanding markets and increasing globalization. Now, though, the trade debate is suddenly a lot more complicated….The need for a calibrated message is especially clear to Reinsch, the president of the NFTC since 2001, who says he is concerned that organized labor and other opponents of U.S. trade policy have succeeded in “putting pro-trade people on the defensive.”