In light of the fact that trade policy has been largely ignored by both Republicans and Democrats throughout the U.S. presidential campaign season, trade experts joined Claude Barfield at AEI on Thursday to discuss the most pressing U.S. trade policy issues and addressed how the next administration should confront them.
Jared Bernstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities opened the debate by tracing the evolution of trade thought in the U.S., from the days of widespread consensus on the virtues of free trade in the early 1980s up until today’s “shattered consensus.” While recognizing the benefits of free trade, Bernstein pointed to the often ignored costs associated with a freer trading environment, such as the loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs to China.
Grant Aldonas of Split Rock International Inc. then highlighted the philosophical underpinnings of trade and the fundamental values that inform his analysis and positions on trade policy. He challenged what he described as the prevailing — yet outdated —perspective on trade and explained why tariffs are less important in today’s economy than they once were. He concluded by emphasizing that trade policy is essential to key social issues and stressed that it is really about investing in America’s future.
– Samuel Eckstein
How will the results of this year’s presidential election affect U.S. trade policy, the larger questions surrounding globalization and the alleged outsourcing of American jobs by U.S. multinationals? After criticizing several free trade agreements (FTAs) in the 2008 election, President Obama belatedly supported pending FTAs with Korea, Colombia and Panama, and he has pressed ahead with the 11-member Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
While generally espousing traditional Republican support for greater trade liberalization, Governor Romney has vowed to label China an unfair currency manipulator on his first day in office and to take other unilateral trade actions if necessary. So where do the two parties stand on trade issues, and how would a Romney administration differ from a second Obama administration regarding future trade and investment? Trade policy and trade politics experts Jared Bernstein and Grant Aldonas will attempt to answer these questions.
If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.
Grant Aldonas, Split Rock International Inc.
Jared Bernstein, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Claude Barfield, AEI
Event Contact Information
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Grant Aldonas is the principal managing director of Split Rock International, a Washington, D.C.-based trade and investment consulting firm he founded in 2006. Aldonas also serves as an adjunct professor of law and is a member of the board of directors of the Institute for International Economic Law at Georgetown University’s Law Center. He is likewise a member of the board of directors of the Center for International Private Enterprise and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. Before launching Split Rock, Aldonas had a distinguished career in law, business and government with a particular focus on international trade and investment. He was most recently a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and from 2001 to 2005, he served as the U.S. under secretary of commerce for international trade. In that capacity, Aldonas promoted U.S. exports globally. Before assuming his position as under secretary of commerce, Aldonas served as chief international trade counsel to the Senate Finance Committee, and he was a partner with Miller & Chevalier law firm before joining the Finance Committee. In 1995, he was counsel to the Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform, and in 1996, he was an adviser to the Commission on U.S.-Pacific Trade and Investment. He was likewise a leader in the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Section of International Practice, serving as the chair of the ABA’s Task Force on Multilateral Investment Agreements and as vice chair of its Committees on Trade and Foreign Investment. Aldonas began his career as a diplomat, serving in the U.S. Foreign Service from 1980 to 1984 and as a trade negotiator in the Office of the United States Trade Representative from 1984 to1985.
Claude Barfield, a former consultant to the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, researches international trade policy (including trade policy in China and East Asia), the World Trade Organization (WTO), intellectual property and science and technology policy. 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.
Jared Bernstein joined the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in May 2011 as a senior fellow. From 2009 to 2011, Bernstein was the chief economist and economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, executive director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class and a member of President Obama’s economic team. Bernstein’s areas of expertise include federal and state economic and fiscal policies, income inequality and mobility, trends in employment and earnings, international comparisons and the analysis of financial and housing markets. Before joining the Obama administration, Bernstein was a senior economist and the director of the Living Standards Program at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. Between 1995 and 1996, he held the post of deputy chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor. He is the author and co-author of numerous books for both popular and academic audiences, including “Crunch: Why Do I Feel So Squeezed?” and nine editions of “The State of Working America.” Bernstein has published extensively in various newspapers and journals, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Financial Times, and Research in Economics and Statistics. He is an on-air commentator for the cable stations CNBC and MSNBC and hosts jaredbernsteinblog.com