Tuesday, January 29, 2008

the major Presidential candidates on trade and human rights

Summary of the implications:
1. All Democrats want to add labor rights and environmental standards to trade agreements, but have not pushed for such standards as central to WTO negotiations, despite labor rights negotiating mandate in TPA 2002. When candidates talk about trade, they are talking about bilaterals.
2. Despite press reports and description, no candidate can be described as “protectionist” populist, or a nationalist. Not one candidate has stated that trade is not in the interest of Americans or that trade agreements don’t benefit Americans by setting shared rules to govern globalization. These terms are too vague and have a political tint that doesn’t fit a world where protectionist tools can be health and safety standards or procurement rules. Instead, all the Democrats (and Huckabee) have stated they want a different approach and language in trade agreements.
3. Republicans with the exception of Huckabee say little about trade and question less. They do not campaign on trade as an issue.
4. No candidate has questioned/strongly criticized distinction between Bush Administration rhetoric on trade and reality of focusing on small country bilaterals (Korea is of course an exception).
5. Obama is the only candidate to consistently support trade as human rights enhancing—but with caveat that trade rules should be remade to include human rights/labor rights/environmental standards.
6. Each candidate touting fair trade has a distinct definition of what is “fair trade.” One man’s fair is another man’s protectionism.
7. All candidates have broken with Bush hope that trade will export democracy and freedom.
8. The Democrats all oppose Colombia, but they have not clarified when it is appropriate to use a trade agreement as an incentive to promote human rights. With the exception of Obama, all the candidates are quick to ban trade in the interest of promoting human rights. But none appear to have truly examined how to use trade to advance human rights at home or abroad.

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