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2009 Trade Policy Agenda Report

President Obama's trade agenda reflects our respect for entrepreneurship and market competition, our environment, opportunity for all, and the rights of workers. It works to benefit American workers and their families, along with increasing the well being of those living in the poorest regions of the world.

Trade is a significant and increasingly important factor in the U.S. and global economies. It is a large and growing part of our everyday commerce, and the jobs influenced by trade are significant and well-paying.

However, the current economic conditions require the discipline to respond to immediate problems while staying true to our long-term goals. President Obama's approach is to promote a rules-based international trading system in order to promote economic stability, while introducing new concepts - including increasing transparency and promoting broader participation in the debate - to help revitalize economic growth and promote higher living standards at home and abroad.

President Obama's policy priorities are as follows:

  • Support a rules-based trading system;

    This Administration reaffirms America's commitment to a rules-based trading system that advances the well being of the citizens of the United States and our trading partners. We will aggressively defend our rights and benefits under the rules-based trading system. This is in the interest of all Americans.

  • Advance the social accountability and political transparency of trade policy

    Social accountability includes tackling adjustment issues for the work force that are created by changes in global trade. Social accountability also means working with our trading partners to improve the status, conditions, and protections of workers.

    In addition to promoting social accountability, U.S. trade policy development needs to become more transparent. Many stakeholders are frustrated with the lack of consultation involved in the development and implementation of trade policy, but we can and should expand public participation in advising U.S trade negotiators.

  • Make trade an important policy tool for achieving progress on national energy and environmental goals

    We should build on the environmental goods and services negotiations begun in the Doha Round, whether at the WTO or in other negotiating arenas. We should assure that the frameworks for trade policy and for tackling global climate complement each other so as to reinforce sustainable economic growth. We should ensure that climate policies are consistent with our trade obligations, but we also should be creative and firm in assuring that trade rules do not block us from tackling this critical environmental task.

  • Make sure that trade agreements are addressing the major unresolved issues that are responsible for trade frictions

    We will negotiate for improved transparency and due process in our partners' trade practices and policies, including government procurement and the crafting of market regulations. We will seek to open markets and secure fair treatment for American services, which are an increasingly important element of our trading profile. We will protect American innovations and creativity by negotiating and enforcing strong and effective intellectual property protections. We will pursue advances in trade facilitation and consumer product safety, through plurilateral negotiations if appropriate. And we will work with our trading partners to develop and implement policies that address the heightened security threats associated with trade in the least trade-impeding manner possible.

  • Build on existing Free Trade Agreements and Bilateral Investment Treaties in a responsible and transparent manner

    The Bush administration has left a legacy of numerous pending agreements and negotiations. We will conduct extensive outreach and discourse with the public on whether these agreements appropriately advance the interests of the United States and our trading partners. In particular, we will promptly, but responsibly, address the issues surrounding the Colombia, Korea and Panama Free Trade Agreements. We shall also review the implementation of our FTAs and bilateral investment treaties (BITs) to ensure that they advance the public interest.

    We will also work with Canada and Mexico to identify ways in which NAFTA could be improved without having an adverse effect on trade. We will do this in a collaborative spirit and emphasize ways in which this process can benefit the citizens of all three countries. And, we will consider proposals for new bilateral and regional agreements when they promise to deliver significant benefits consistent with our national economic policies.

  • Uphold our commitment to be a strong partner to developing countries, especially the poorest developing countries.

    Expanded trade can make an important contribution to boosting growth in developing countries and lift their national income levels. Economic growth in these countries benefits the American economy by expanding markets for American exporters. We shall promote trade policies, including technical assistance for capacity building, that will help these countries engage successfully with the world economy.

    Trade preference programs help entrepreneurs in developing countries compete effectively in the world trading system. Many of our nation's trade preference programs are coming due for legislative review. We will work with the Congress and public stakeholders on their renewal and reform. We will give careful consideration to proposals to concentrate benefits.

This agenda combines the best elements of previous trade policies, especially a rules-based system of global trade, with a determination to make trade policy a powerful contributor to the President's national economic agenda for revival of the global economy and renewal of growth that benefits all people.

If we work together, free and fair trade with a proper regard for social and environmental goals and appropriate political accountability will be a powerful contributor to the national and global well being.

View the full report.