Sunday, April 11, 2004

Elevating Trade Discussions

There's a very nice article in Foreign Policy Mag about How to Be a Free Trade Democrat. The author, former Clinton advisor Gene Sperling, critcizes the pandering vilification of trade by Democratic politcians and proposes some new approaches. I think he's pretty much on the money. The discussion should not be pro-trade vs anti-trade, but more a recognition of the impacts and ramifications of trade on the economy, and how to better deal with it. There is little to be gained by abandoning free trade, but we clearly could be doing a better job of reshaping our economy to take advantage of the opportunities of trade while not inflicting harsh penalties on those who bear the impact of the changing economy. Sperling's suggestions follow three main directives: 1) demonstrate the values of trade and how the US can use them to our advantage, 2) identify at-risk workers and industries, make efforts to shore them up against global competition, and where necessary provide a safety net to aid in the transition of workers to new jobs in new industries, and 3) recognize and promote the potential of trade to improve the economies of third world nations and reduce global poverty. These are all very good suggestions.

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