November 16, 2012 12:32PM

‘Going Big’ on Trade

Reuters reports that Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX), chairman of a key trade subcommittee in the House of Representatives, wants to see big things on trade in President Obama’s second term:

“We need to go big. We need to go smart. But above all we need to go on trade,” Brady said at an event organized by the Global Business Dialogue and the Washington law firm of McDermott Will & Emery.

Sounds great! So what does he have in mind?

Brady outlined an agenda that includes many initiatives already being pursued by the Obama administration, including a regional free trade agreement in the Asia Pacific and possible free trade talks with the European Union.

Beyond that, he said, “America needs to lead again on trade” through projects such as a bilateral investment treaty with China and “an honest assessment” of ways to boost trade with two other major developing countries, Brazil and India.

He urged the Obama administration, in consultation with Congress, to weigh free trade talks with additional countries such as Egypt, Turkey and Georgia.

The United States should also consider bringing additional Latin America countries into the Trans‐​Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement currently being negotiated with Mexico, Peru, Chile, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and
Brunei, he said.

Well, all right, I guess that is something. I’m not sure it actually counts as “free trade,” of course, because it involves preferential trade with certain countries, not free trade with all. But it is something.

What would be better, in my view, is this: Propose some new unilateral trade liberalization, to demonstrate to the world that the United States actually believes in free trade. Here’s one suggestion for a place to start: Cut farm subsidies!