Future Visions for U.S. Trade Policy

A Council Policy Initiative

March 01, 1998

Report

More on:

Trade

United States

Overview

With fast-track trade authority sidetracked, at least for now, experts believe it is time to take a hard look at the alternatives in order to sustain momentum for increasing world trade. In Future Visions for U.S. Trade Policy, the experts cite three ways out of the deadlock: first, provide new presidential leadership to gain some support for regional and multilateral trade liberalization; second, pause strategically to develop a better way of dealing with the inevitable challenges of globalization (including displaced workers, the U.S. trade deficit, the environment, and workers' rights); or third, accept the elimination of fast track and make Capitol Hill more responsible and thus accountable for trade policy.

For more than thirty years, the fast-track system of trade policy worked reasonably well. Congress granted presidents negotiating authority while retaining the right to a simple up or down vote on all trade agreements. After the congressional decision not to grant the White House this kind of leeway, the Council chose to look at strategic alternatives for the future. To examine the issue and present alternatives, the Council identified experts with diverse perspectives: C. Fred Bergsten of the Institute for International Economics, William Niskanen of the Cato Institute, Jeff Faux of the Economic Policy Institute, and Pat Choate, the 1996 Reform Party vice presidential candidate.