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Transition 2008: Advising America's Next President: Rethinking Trade Policy (Audio)

Panelists: Edward Alden, Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
David Backus, Heinz Riehl Professor Chair of NYU Stern's Department of Economics
Anna Szterenfeld, Latin America editor for Economist Intelligence Unit
Moderator: Jonathan Eaton, Economics Professor at NYU's Stern Business School
December 2, 2008

It's time to chart a new course in U.S. trade policy, experts agreed at the final panel discussion in a series on the presidential transition co-hosted by CFR, the Economist, and New York University's Stern School of Business on Dec. 2.

Panelists contended rethinking trade policy doesn't mean plowing ahead with new bilateral agreements. Instead, the U.S. should take a "strategic pause" to reexamine priorities, strengthen relationships with trading partners, and focus on actively participating in the World Trade Organization's Doha Round rather than on seeking new bilateral agreements, CFR Fellow Edward Alden said.

NYU economics professor David Backus argued that given the developed state of the U.S. economy, more trade is unlikely to result in significant gains. Unlike the economies of Mexico, China, or India, the U.S. economy is not undergoing transformation, he said; rather, it's in need of repair.  The Economist's Anna Szterenfeld suggests that, instead of increasing trade, the incoming Obama administration should re-envision trade as "part and parcel of a comprehensive agenda" and thereby repair and strengthen diplomatic relations.

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