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March 2002

April 2002

President's Message (Pearl Johnson)
Honolulu League's Annual Membership Meeting
Is 2002 the Year for a Bottle Bill? (Jackie Parnell)
Vote Today - Vote No in One Puka (Anna Hoover)
More about the Proposed New Position on Trade
Nominating Committee Report
Welcome New Member
Voter Service Committee

More about the Proposed New Position on Trade

Trade policy is the tool that nations use to regulate the movement of goods and services across their borders.

The proposed position does not change the League's support for a liberal U.S. trade policy but does provide tools to address a broader range of concerns as a means to help extend the benefits of trade to more of the world's people and advance vital social and environmental objectives. The position ensures that the League's multiple interests - not solely economic ones-can be brought to bear in evaluating trade proposals.

In this context, a "liberal" policy is one that seeks to reduce trade barriers and expand trade. It is used in contrast to "protectionism," which seeks to restrict trade in order to give an economic advantage to particular industries, regions or individuals at the expense of the greater good.

Does the proposed position imply support for the World Trade Organization? Progress in reducing trade barriers and expanding international trade can be achieved most effectively by U.S. participation in the broadest possible global forum, currently the World Trade Organization. The WTO serves several important functions: it administers trade agreements, provides a forum for trade negotiations, and settles trade-related disputes.

While supporting U.S. membership in the WTO, the position also points up aspects of the WTO that are in need of reform, including

  • Clarification that trade sanctions allowed under other international treaties, such as multilateral environmental agreements and labor/human right agreements, are not violations of WTO rules;

  • Greater transparency, wider and more timely access to documents, and opportunities to file friend of-the-court briefs in dispute settlement proceedings;

  • Recognition of the legitimacy of a country's domestic laws/ regulations addressing environmental, health, labor and human rights concerns.

The proposed position reaffirms support for advance negotiating authority for the president and adds an emphasis on the role of Congress in establishing negotiating objectives at the outset of the process. Congress, with input from the public, should set trade policy priorities and see to it that the negotiations lead to progress on environmental and social, as well as economic, goals.

Giving the president advance authority to negotiate trade treaties that Congress cannot later amend facilities further trade liberalization. When the U.S. enters into trade negotiations, the countries at the other end of the negotiating table need to know that the trade package they all agree to is final. During the negotiations, the package is carefully crafted to ensure that the benefits that each country gains outweigh the concessions each country must make. U.S. trading partners need to know that these sensitive compromises cannot later be picked apart by Congress and that the entire package will be voted up or down as a whole.

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