Tuesday, March 3, 2009

USTR Lays Out Obama’s Agenda for `Free and Fair’ Trade

(EasyBourse – Tom Barkley, Dow Jones Newswires)

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office said Monday that President Barack Obama would pursue an agenda of “free and fair trade,” with plans to consider changes to pending free trade agreements, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Doha trade talks.

In its first annual trade policy agenda report to Congress, USTR signaled a shift from the Bush administration’s primary focus on expanding free trade agreements, giving greater emphasis to protecting workers rights and the environment.

“If we work together, free and fair trade with a proper regard for social and environmental goals and appropriate political accountability will be a powerful contributor to the national and global well being,” the report said.

The administration plans “extensive outreach and discourse with the public” to determine whether three holdover trade pacts – with Colombia, Korea and Panama – are in the best interest of the U.S. and its trading partners. While planning to move on Panama “relatively quickly,” USTR plans to set up benchmarks for progress on the other two.

The administration also reaffirmed its intention to make good on Obama’s campaign pledge to push Canada and Mexico to agree to stronger worker and environmental protections in NAFTA “without having an adverse effect on trade.” Read more here.