Wednesday, December 20

Dave Schuler weighs in on the Fair Trade-Free Trade debate, and a few more words on Iraq

"Dear Pundita: Re your post on social dumping:

If I had more energy perhaps I could come up with a "Top 10", but I have managed to come up with a Top 5 ways you can tell that Fair Trade is starting to get traction (or that free trade is losing ground):

1. Collapse of the Doha round.

2. The U. S. vital interest (intellectual property) didn't even make it onto the table in the Doha round as it was.

3. Leftward swing of Latin American governments.

4. Fair trade is a successful campaign issue in states that are selling products rather than services e.g. Iowa, Ohio, and Florida.

5. This story in The New York Times on the horrible working and environmental conditions in China.

The U. S. is the great prodder on free trade. As we lose clout or lose interest it's not surprising that the move towards free trade slows. If the salt loses its savor, etc.
Dave Schuler
The Glittering Eye
P.S. I linked to your conversation with Michael Wright in the colloquium on Iraq I've been carrying on for the last week or so."

Dear Dave:
This gives me the opportunity to congratulate you for being a finalist in the 2006 Weblog Awards in the Centrist Blog category. I consider you more nonaligned than centrist, but I guess the Weblog folks didn’t have such a category. As for me, I find your nonaligned approach to analysis to be valuable.

Re #4 on your Top 4 list -- great catch, noting that these are product-selling states, and the implications.

As to the collapse of Doha: US trade reps are shedding crocodile tears over the collapse of multilateral trade deals while racing all over the world and signing bilateral trade deals. It’s the same for everyone else right now. But bilateralism in trade deals tends to work against free trade because it stimulates the beggar-thy-neighbor approach and protectionism.

The only good news I can glean from all this is that the Doha Round wasn’t really representative of trade multilateralism, which opens a way to get multilateral trade talks back on track.

Doha was an attempt to work a kind of welfare for the poorer countries into multilateral trade deals. The US promised the moon to governments that could assist the US in the war on terror. They were making promises they couldn’t keep. Doha collapsed when the poorer nations ganged up and called the bluff.

So one hopes that the next round of WTO talks will focus on shoring multilateral trade deals -- and without the bells and whistles of the Doha Round.

Thank you for including me in the blogger colloquium on Iraq. For readers who want to follow the colloquium on the topic Directions on Iraq, check the link I’ve provided for the archives on the past days and Dave’s main page for daily posts on the topic.

Right now it seems the direction in Iraq is being set by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, who heads Iraq’s SCIRI (Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq). According to a December 10 opinion piece by Jim Hoagland for The Washington Post:
In recent weeks British commanders have reported to London that Hakim’s Shiite political party [. . .] has completed a gradual takeover of Iraq’s south. That leaves British forces with little ability to influence events –- or reason to stay on much longer in any large numbers[. . .]
That’s why I was fuming at the British command during my talk with Mike. From day one, the British helped set up conditions for a partition of the south. An informal partition of Iraq into three autonmous regions is all over but the shouting, as far as they’re concerned. But that means Iran will run a big portion of Iraq.

I suppose the British would retort that the only thing they’re guilty of is extreme realism yet that would be a backward approach; it’s rooted in their colonial experience of managing "native" governments. That experience included tamping down democratic movements.

Is it too late to turn back the tide in Iraq and strengthen the central government? I remain hopeful, if only because war demands hope.

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