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Event Summary

In his commencement address at West Point on May 28, President Obama explained his foreign policy agenda, which included military forces in Afghanistan and regional aggression in Ukraine and Asia. One crucial aspect was never mentioned: trade.

In his first appearance at AEI, Representative Charles Boustany (R-LA) answered the simple question, “Why is trade important for the United States?” Trade is vital to economic growth, but he argued that trade is also an opportunity for the US to lead and engage internationally. Rep. Boustany urged the Obama administration to provide more leadership in trade discussions and pressure Congress to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other trade agreements but acknowledged that the upcoming elections are coloring the administration’s approach.

AEI’s Claude Barfield turned to a panel of experts to discuss the TPP and future trade agreements. Bill Reinsch of the National Foreign Trade Council stated that passing the TPP before the November elections would pressure Congress to address Trade Promotion Authority. Thea Lee of the AFL-CIO argued that the American trade policy is on the wrong track. The Center for Strategic Studies’ Scott Miller supported the TPP for the real benefits it provides and stated that its passage comes down to coalition building. Finally, AEI’s Derek Scissors discussed rules of origin, competitive neutrality, and intellectual property in the TPP and their relation to US trade.

Barfield closed by noting some panelists’ belief that a high-standard agreement will build a winning coalition in Congress.
–Alex Coblin

Event Description

President Barack Obama returned from his Asia trip without a breakthrough in economic talks with Japan, leaving Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations unresolved. Meanwhile, congressional elections are pitting those who claim the trade agreement will boost growth against others who insist it will cost jobs. Regardless of the outcome, trade will be a major policy topic through 2016 and beyond.

Please join Representative Charles Boustany Jr. (R-LA), veteran of the House Subcommittee on Trade, as he presents the issues at hand in the coming debates. Following his remarks, a panel of experts will tackle the sharply clashing views held by Congress and citizens nationwide.


8:45 AM
Registration and Breakfast

9:00 AM
Opening Remarks:
Charles Boustany Jr., US House of Representatives (R-LA)

9:30 AM
Thea Lee, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations
Scott Miller, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Bill Reinsch, National Foreign Trade Council
Derek Scissors, AEI

Claude Barfield, AEI

10:10 AM

10:30 AM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Alex Coblin at [email protected], 202.419.5215.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.

Speaker Biographies

Claude Barfield is a resident scholar at AEI who researches international trade policy (including trade policy in China and East Asia), the World Trade Organization (WTO), intellectual property, and science and technology policy. He is a former consultant to the Office of the US Trade Representative. His many books include “Free Trade, Sovereignty, Democracy: The Future of the World Trade Organization” (AEI Press, 2001), in which he identifies challenges to the WTO and to the future of trade liberalization.

Charles Boustany Jr. represents Louisiana’s Third Congressional District and serves as a senior member of the House Committee on Ways and Means and as chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight. He sits on the Ways and Means subcommittees for Trade and Human Resources. Boustany’s focus on international economic affairs allows him to be a strong voice on matters of foreign and domestic trade to expand markets and business opportunities for US produced goods and services. Along with revising the federal tax code to make it easier for American businesses to compete, Boustany seeks to promote an atmosphere of job creation while maintaining American competitiveness.

Thea Lee is deputy chief of staff at the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, where she has also served as policy director and chief international economist. Previously, she worked as an international trade economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, DC, and as an editor at Dollars & Sense magazine in Boston. Lee is coauthor of “Field Guide to the Global Economy” (New Press, 2005). Her research projects include reports on the North American Free Trade Agreement, on the impact of international trade on US wage inequality, and on the domestic steel and textile industries. She serves on the Department of State’s Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy, where she co-chairs the Subcommittee on Investment. She is also on the board of directors of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Scott Miller is a senior adviser and holds the William M. Scholl Chair in International Business at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. From 1997 to 2012, Miller was director for global trade policy at Procter & Gamble. In that position, he was responsible for the full range of international trade, investment, and business facilitation issues for the company. Miller has led many campaigns supporting US free trade agreements, and as a member of numerous business associations, he has been a key contributor to international trade and investment policy. He advised the US government as liaison to the US Trade Representative’s Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations, as well as the Department of State’s Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy. Miller was the founding chairman of the Department of Commerce’s Industry Trade Advisory Committee investment working group.

Bill Reinsch currently serves as president of the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC). As president, Reinsch oversees NFTC’s efforts in favor of open markets, in support of Export-Import Bank and Overseas Private Investment Corporation, against unilateral sanctions and in support of sound international tax policy, among many other international trade and tax issues of concern to US business. Concurrently, Reinsch also serves as a member of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Prior to joining the NFTC, Reinsch served as the undersecretary for export administration in the US Department of Commerce. In that position he administered and enforced the export control policies and antiboycott laws of the US government and monitored the condition of the nation’s defense industrial base.

Derek M. Scissors is a resident scholar at AEI, where he studies Asian economic issues and trends. In particular, he focuses on the Chinese and Indian economies and US economic relations with China and India. Scissors is also an adjunct professor at George Washington University, where he teaches a course on the Chinese economy. Before joining AEI, Scissors was a senior research fellow in the Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation. He has also worked in London for Intelligence Research Ltd., taught economics at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, and served as an action officer in international economics and energy for the US Department of Defense.

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