As President Obama prepares to travel to Asia this week, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) urged the Administration to move forward with trade deals in Asia in order to stimulate the economy by boosting exports and reject any policies that result in increased prices for American consumers.
Trade agreements across Asia and the Pacific have essentially created a large free trade area rivaling the size and buying power of the United States and Europe. According to the Wall Street Journal
, there are 168 free trade agreements in effect in Asia today, with the U.S. involved in two—Singapore and Australia.
International trade has long been a backbone of both America’s economy and foreign policy. But recently, politics has gotten in its way. While Asian nations have accelerated their efforts to lower barriers to trade, the United States has remained idle. Free trade opens new markets for America’s exporters and promotes new economic opportunities for American workers employed by exporters. Obama’s refusal to set a comprehensive trade agenda that fosters a competitive market free from protectionist interference has resulted in a missed opportunity to speed up the economic recovery.
While Obama should be pushing for the ratification of pending trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama, the administration has chosen to pick trade fights with key trading partners, especially China. China has made a priority of negotiating trade treaties with its neighbors, and recently, a broad-sweeping agreement with several African nations. Meanwhile, Obama has pandered to his protectionist political allies by increasing taxes on tires and steel imported from China.
Obama needs to realize free trade is a two way street, but in the end all parties will benefit. When it comes to making these benefits reality, however, it seems that the President has other priorities.