Saturday, December 10, 2005

pre-posting "11 down - 37 to go"

This post is a bit early, but today's WSJ had a decent interview with our trade negotiator. In hindsight, I probably set the bar too high for Bush by making approval of the Doha round one of his metrics, but not sure how I would lower the bar on trade. These two lines from the article certainly ring true:

After all, Doha was launched because underdeveloped countries, which had eased market restrictions in the preceding Uruguay round, never got their payback of market access in agriculture. Mr. Portman points out that their position "has a lot of merit."

Mr. Portman has battles on the home front, too. His own office has set bad examples, such as antidumping duties against Canadian lumber. And a protectionist Senate, including a good number of Republicans, is fighting hard to retain the Byrd Amendment--which rewards domestic protectionists with antidumping duties--even though the WTO has ruled against it and the administration says it wants it repealed.

My hopes are minimal, and at this point, it doesn't really matter how little political capital Bush has left, and how narrow the vote was for the relatively minor CAFTA, I just can't see an agreement of any substance during the Hong Kong negotiations.

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