Topic: Trade and Immigration

Taxpayers and Transatlantic Trade: How TTIP Must Open Procurement Markets

In today’s Cato Online Forum essay, Gary Hufbauer and Tyler Moran explain why opening up more government procurement projects – especially U.S. procurement projects (and even more especially, state-level procurement projects) – to foreign competition is essential to a successful TTIP deal. Currently, even with the WTO Government Procurement Agreement in place, a treasure trove of U.S. business (in the trillions of dollars, unfortunately) is shielded from competition because it is “government spending” on “sensitive” projects.  

Those designations ensure that U.S. taxpayers get smaller bangs for their bucks, while entrenching inefficient firms as advantaged bidders.  Moreover, if TTIP fails to open U.S. procurement to more competition from EU firms, then EU negotiators will be less likely to meaningfully open their own markets to U.S. exporters and service providers.

Read it. Provide feedback. And sign up for the Cato TTIP conference on October 12.

How Will the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Affect U.S. Jobs?

Today’s Cato Online Forum essay comes from economist Laura Baughman, who laments the typical methodological approaches to estimating relationships between trade agreements and jobs, pointing out how those approaches seem to be used to validate a priori positions, either pro- or anti-trade, rather than reveal best estimates.  While economists are better at estimating the relationships between trade agreements and output or between trade agreements and trade flows, Baughman explains that if the likely impact of on jobs is sought, there is a more objective approach to take.  And the results of that method suggest that “it will be hard to argue that [TTIP] will not be a job ‘winner’ for the United States.”

Read it. Provide feedback.  And sign up for the Cato TTIP conference on October 12.

 

Forethought on Rules of Origin and Regulatory Coherence Essential to TTIP’s Success

Today’s Cato Online Forum essay takes a look under the hood – or, rather, describes what should be under the hood – of a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership deal, if it is to succeed at minimizing trade diversion and spreading its benefits to third countries. In her essay, Inu Barbee explains why today’s globalized value chains necessitate smart rules of origin and inclusive regulatory standards in the TTIP. Read it. Comment. And register to see and hear more at Cato’s TTIP conference on October 12.

Geopolitical Dimensions of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

Four of the participants in next month’s Cato conference have written essays pertaining to the geopolitics surrounding TTIP.  Today, we publish two of those essays in our Online Forum.

First, in this piece, Phil Levy of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management notes the interrelatedness of economic and security interests in the TTIP and writes that “A successful TTIP would have a number of salutary effects on the geopolitical scene. The necessary corollary is that a failed TTIP effort could be costly…”

Second, in this piece, while acknowledging that “TTIP can be a valuable geopolitical tool for the United States,” Peter Rashish of Transnational Strategy Group LLC, also cautions that “policymakers need to weigh carefully how far trade policy should go in promoting U.S. foreign policy objectives.”

Your comments are welcome.

Aiming to Set New Global Trade Rules

Today’s essay for Cato’s Online Forum on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership comes from Berkeley Political Science Professor Vinod K. Aggarwal, who explains the growing popularity of trade liberalization outside the WTO, and discusses how third countries might react to a TTIP agreement between the United States and European Union.

This essay and this forum are associated with an upcoming TTIP conference at Cato on October 12.

Pope Francis on Immigration

Pope Francis asked all Catholics to pray for those “who seek a home where they can live without fear” but went further by actually praising those who help refugees.  In arguing for the admission of more Syrian refugees, he said the goal should be “to give them a concrete hope, and not just to tell them: ‘Have courage, be patient!’”  No doubt the Pope would go further than many of us in arguing for welfare for refugees even though merely getting the governments of the way to stop hurting refugees is enough, but his full-throated support for granting them refuge is commendable.

Protecting Scotch the Wrong Way in Africa

The African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) has reportedly accepted the registration of “Scotch” as a geographical indication for whisky “made in Scotland from water, cereals and yeast, and matured for at least three years.”  It’s unclear what if any commercial consequences this move will have considering that the 17 West African countries of the OAPI are not major consumers of Scotch.  However, it does have significant importance as a step forward in the attempt to use GI protection to secure excessive privileges for Old World producers in foreign markets.

Perhaps the word “Scotch” does indeed refer only to whisky made in Scotland.  The Scottish producers of scotch certainly think so.  In no uncertain terms, the spokesperson of the Scotch Whisky Association says that GI registration will protect consumers from “fakes.” 

But the purpose of GI protection is generally not to fight against fakes (fraud is already illegal everywhere) but to prevent the use of place names as generic descriptions of products.  Scottish producers want to make sure that no where on earth are consumers allowed to think that “Scotch” simply means whisky made according to the methods historically used in Scotland. 

Consider the example of Champagne.   To some, champagne is a word that means bubbly white wine.  To others, it is a name for wine made near Epernay, France according to traditional methods.  French champagne producers have been fighting long and hard to claw back the word and prohibit its use as a generic term.

But there are many, many geographic words that are used as generic descriptors.  Consider Belgian waffles, French fries, Philly cheesesteak, or even Valencia oranges.  Despite being the names of places, these words tell you what the product is like, not where it came from.  

There are two big policy questions surrounding GIs: (1) whether a geographic term deserves protection and (2) what actions are prohibited once a GI is protected.  Let’s consider the second question for now.