January 27, 2009 10:22AM

Some (Relatively) Good News on Trade

A couple of noteworthy events this week that signal Hope™ for not‐​too‐​egregious trade policy from the new administration.

First, Obama met with Mexico President Filipe Calderon and reportedly made no mention of renegotiating NAFTA (although he did say that he wants to revisit labor and environment provisions in that agreement, which is bad enough). Second, President Obama and President Lula da Silva of Brazil spoke by telephone yesterday (more here) and pledged to work together on biofuels (cryptic enough to leave this sceptic unmoved) and on the Doha round of world trade talks.

I am still not convinced of President Obama’s free trade credentials, and it’s a sad day when our expectations are lowered to the extent that we are affirmatively pleased that no protectionist action is being taken. I certainly don’t suggest we laud politicians for not catering to their worst instincts. But in this case, no news is good news.