Issue 59| March 20, 2015
Obama pushes for Democrats to back him on Trade Promotion Authority

Obama's administration has been met with more resistance than expected in trying to pass the "fast track" legislation that would prevent Congress from amending trade deals and allow Obama to conclude trade pacts more easily. In efforts to win their support for his proposals, Obama met with many House Democrats last month and deployed Cabinet officials, including the Labor Secretary, Commerce Secretary and U.S. Trade Representative, to talk to Democrats. Many sources estimate Obama will need anywhere between 15 to 45 Democrats in order to obtain this rare legislative victory. Read more.

Does the AFL-CIO have enough power to stop Obama's trade agenda?

Last week the AFL-CIO made the big announcement that it would withhold future contributions and contributions already committed to congressional Democrats in order to defeat the fast track Trade Promotion Authority legislation. However, it is unclear how effective this move will be in stopping the legislation, as similar attempts made by the AFL-CIO in 1993 with regards to NAFTA were unsuccessful. AFL-CIO's diminishing political spending over the years and the combination of trade friendly House Republicans and Democrats may be enough to pass the fast track legislation. Read more.

Promoting trade creates jobs - Ed Rendell

Increasing trade has added more than $13,000 to the average American household's annual income. Trade has proven to be America's best tactic for coming out of the Great Recession and current trade negotiations could solidify America's economic rise and increase middle-class worker's incomes. The Trans-Pacific Partnership will open up areas for more America exports and provide high labor and environmental protections, while the Transatlantic Partnership will allow America to gain premium access to two-thirds of the global economy. In order to pass these important measures however, both Republicans and Democrats must work together to provide support to give Obama trade promotion authority. Read more.

Shaky future for Japan, U.S. TPP talks  

Negotiations regarding the Tran-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have been renewed, but the future of the TPP remains unclear as both Japan and U.S. undergo internal governmental challenges to the agreement. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faces growing opposition from local chapters in rural districts, and recent financial scandals involving Cabinet members and resignation of the agriculture minister have distracted the government. Meanwhile, Obama is still struggling to gain fast track authority which would allow the executive branch to negotiate a deal with restricted input from congress. Read more.

China updates its list of restricted foreign investment sectors 

In an effort to increase the competitiveness of its economy, China has updated its list of restricted foreign investment sectors from 2011, cutting the number of sectors where foreign investment is restricted from 35 to 79. This has opened areas such as real estate, steel, oil refining, papermaking and premium spirits for investment. However, areas such as Chinese legal affairs, consulting, tobacco and cultural relics remain prohibited to foreign investment. The updates in China's list of restrictions reflects the state's goal to "advance service industry openness" but reluctance to release control over industries crucial to national interest. Read more.

Cutler stresses benefits of KORUS and need to resolve implrementation issues 

Wendy Cutler, the acting deputy U.S. trade representative, emphasized the benefits of the South Korea- U.S. free trade agreement (FTA) on the third anniversary of the agreement. In this past year U.S. goods and exports to Korea reached a record high of $44.5 billion and Cutler points out that Korea has been able to boost its manufacturing and agricultural sectors as well as gain investments through this agreement. Cutler does however point out that Korea and the United States needs to work together on solving FTA implementation issues, especially in areas such as customs, automotive and financial service sectors. Read more.


World Trade Week Kickoff Breakfast, March 5


For nearly 90 years, World Trade Week has been the most extensive and unique program of its kind in the country.  Join more than 600 executives and members of the diplomatic corps to commence a month-long celebration of world trade in Southern California.
Compiled by Global Initiatives Interns Michelle Dong and Benjamin Smith.

For more information, contact Aaron Borboa, 213.580.7583.