Locke Begins Commerce Secretary Job Echoing Fair Trade Message

by: David Sirota

Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 13:13

We still don't know the policy implications of Gary Locke taking the helm of the Commerce Department, but this initial declaration by him is a good sign:

Locke, whose nomination requires Senate confirmation, promised the Senate's commerce committee he would fight to protect US intellectual property rights and vigorously enforce the rules of existing US trade pacts.

"More than free trade, though, I believe in fair trade," he said in the confirmation hearing.

"That means we must enforce our trade agreement and place a high value on environmental, labor and safety standards," he said, warning that failure to do so was "putting American workers at a competitive disadvantage."

At minimum, this kind of rhetoric suggests the Obama administration is interested in listening to and appeasing fair trade forces. It's only rhetoric, of course, but it is nonetheless  encouraging.

David Sirota :: Locke Begins Commerce Secretary Job Echoing Fair Trade Message

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What about after confirmation (4.00 / 1)
I like what he has to say.  However, I'm a little skeptical that his rhetoric before and after will sound the same.

Our Dime Understanding the U.S. Budget

"Fair Trade" entirely undefined (4.00 / 1)
I worry that now "fair trade" will become (or already is) a hollow buzzword slapped onto anything, like multinational chemical companies put "natural" or "derived from nature" on their products.

Let's insist on some specifics. NAFTA is probably still the best litmus test we have - everyone Obama is going to have in a trade-related position will oppose NAFTA, but the key distinguishing factor will be to what extent. Will it be "NAFTA is fundamentally a good idea, but we need to tweak existing labor/enviro provisions," or will it be "NAFTA has killed millions of jobs, impoverished working families on both sides of the Rio Grande, and encouraged disastrous impacts on our environment"?

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