When then-President Bill Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement in a White House ceremony in December 1993, he called it “a defining moment” for the United States and praised Mexico and Canada as “our partners in the future that we are trying to make together.” All three countries had made what then seemed like an irreversible decision to marry their economic futures. Yet today, less than a quarter-century later, those bonds are badly fraying.
Former United States Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman will join the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) this month as a distinguished fellow, where his work will focus on international economic policy and trends, trade and investment policy, and globalization and populism.
President Donald J. Trump has wide latitude to enact the sweeping changes to U.S. foreign policy that he has promised, but his executive authority is constrained by congressional legislation, treaty obligations, and bureaucratic processes.
InFailure to Adjust: How Americans Got Left Behind in the Global Economy, Council on Foreign Relations Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow Edward Alden explains why the political consensus in support of trade liberalization has collapsed, and how to correct the course. The United States has contributed more than any other nation to writing the rules that created the competitive global economy of today, helping support stronger growth in much of the world. Yet successive U.S. administrations have done far too little to help Americans succeed under those rules, says Alden.
“Much more even than globalization, technology is going to create upheaval and destroy industries and jobs. This can be for the better, helping us create new and more interesting jobs or freeing up time for leisure and artistic pursuits. But unless we find ways to share the prosperity and help Americans adapt to the coming changes, many could be left worse off than they are,” argue Vivek Wadhwa and Edward Alden.
Authors: Thomas J. Bollyky and Petros C. Mavroidis Columbia Law School, Center for Law and Economic Studies
Global value chains have changed the way that the world trades. The World Trade Organization (WTO) should embrace the confluence of shared social preferences and trade, where it may exist such as digital trade, food and drug safety, and climate smart-agriculture, as a motivation for advancing international regulatory cooperation. To do that, changes to the corporate governance of the WTO are needed to facilitate the use of plurilateral agreements and to multilateralize progress already occurring bilaterally and regionally.
Trade Policy Has Become Politically Unpopular. These Steps Could Help Rehabilitate It. This piece is based on a new CFR discussion paper authored by Edward Alden and Robert E. Litan, titled “A Winning Trade Policy for the United States.”
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2016 Annual Report. The Annual Report spotlights new initiatives, high-profile events, and authoritative scholarship from CFR experts, and includes a message from CFR President Richard N. Haass. Read and download »