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Trade: Boosting Exports to China

June 11th, 2013

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Twenty years ago, American businesses flocked to China with vague but ambitious plans to sell its billion consumers everything from toasters to telephones. But in a market that had no meaningful middle class, they found few takers. In the years since, China has successfully tapped into foreign investment and know-how to build a powerful, export-oriented economy—and a rapidly expanding middle class—largely by selling to America’s middle class. Its success has stoked American concerns about trade deficits and the loss of middle-class jobs to low-cost foreign competition.

But China’s ongoing transformation points to a potentially different future: one in which America expands its exports, achieves fairer trade, creates good jobs, and strengthens the middle class—by increasingly selling to China’s burgeoning middle class.

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Ending China’s Cyberattacks

May 15th, 2013

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Last week, the Pentagon came out and said it: Cyberintrusions on Defense Department computer systems, as well as economic and defense industrial base sectors are “directly attributable to the Chinese government and military.” China’s cyberintrusions are a serious matter. But why does China’s hacking strike everyone as beyond the pale?

Of course China wants to steal our secrets – after all, espionage is considered the second oldest profession. It’s also hardly surprising that China is cyberspying on America’s defense industrial base to gain military advantage. Governments, no doubt including ours, do this all the time.

No, the real affront here is that the Chinese government is using all the cybertools of the state to break into private sector companies and steal information and ideas for purely commercial advantage. Given that half of China’s economy is owned or effectively controlled by the Chinese government, China has a particular incentive to share ill-gotten secrets with its extensive roster of state-owned enterprises and national champion companies. Beijing is providing them with significant – and highly unfair – advantages over their global commercial competitors.   Read the rest of this entry »

3 Key Trade Trends the U.S. Can’t Ignore

May 8th, 2013

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When America debated the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993, Groundhog Day – a film about doing the same things over and over – was a box office hit. Since then, our trade debates have often been like Groundhog Day, with trade supporters and critics repeatedly recycling well-worn talking points. But before everyone dusts off old scripts for upcoming debates about trade deals with Asia and Europe, it’s worthwhile to consider what America might learn from more recent trade developments – especially those currently happening outside the United States.

Three trends in global trade highlight why it’s more vital than ever that America continue to play a strong role in writing robust rules for trade.

1. America’s Not the Only Game in Town. As America works to conclude a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and to ramp up new trade talks with the European Union, it’s important to remember that other major economies are also pursuing a bevy of new trade deals.

There are already hundreds of trade agreements in force among groups of countries that don’t include the United States, with many more under negotiation. The EU, for example, is negotiating agreements with Canada, India and Japan. And China, Japan and South Korea have begun talks on a pact that would boost trade among the world’s second-, fourth- and twelfth-largest economies. These three countries – together with 13 regional neighbors – are also negotiating a massive Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership that would tie together 16 countries with a combined GDP of over $26 trillion.

For the United States, the implications of growing trend are clear – if we don’t continue to engage in developing new norms for global trade, global competitors like China surely will.

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Bera and Gerwin: Getting ‘LinkedIn’ to Asia

April 10th, 2013

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By Rep. Ami Bera and Ed Gerwin 

Need a better job? Want a more fulfilling career?

In today’s digital world, social networks such as LinkedIn are vital for professional success. A strong network of friends and colleagues can break down barriers and open doors, and it is often the surest way to find a job, land business and build a career.

In the global economy, networking is critical for countries too. By linking economies and reducing impediments to commerce, trade agreements can boost economic growth, open up business opportunities and support better jobs for workers.

When America networks on trade, we succeed. More than 45 percent of U.S. goods exports go to the 20 countries with which we have trade agreements, including Canada and Mexico, our biggest export partners. And our trade with these partners tends to be more balanced. In recent years, America has had trade surpluses in manufactured goods and services with our trade agreement partners.

But America still has considerable trade networking to do, especially in forging stronger links with the fast-growing economies in East Asia — a region that will add over a billion new middle-class consumers in the next decade and import an estimated $10 trillion in 2020 alone.

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Don’t Forget Canada and Mexico

March 27th, 2013

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This piece was originally published on GE’s “Idea’s Lab” website.

Japan’s recent announcement that it’s seeking to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations has created quite a stir in trade circles.

Adding Japan and its $4 trillion economy to the TPP talks would substantially boost the economic and political importance of any eventual trade deal and create major new export opportunities for the United States and the 10 other TPP countries. But, as Third Way noted in a recent letter to Congressional trade leaders, TPP negotiators also face a huge challenge in assuring that Japan’s strong tradition of shielding its farm, manufacturing, and services sectors doesn’t derail the goal of creating a truly comprehensive, high-standard agreement that broadly opens up Asia-Pacific trade.

Seemingly lost in all the recent buzz about Japan is another important TPP development–the admission of Canada and Mexico to the TPP talks last fall. This less-heralded development is highly significant, particularly for the United States and our producers and workers.

But why? Isn’t the United States already linked to Canada and Mexico under NAFTA? How would the TPP improve things?

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A Courtside Seat for Asia-Pacific Trade

March 15th, 2013

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When it comes to sports–and trade–there’s no substitute for being there.

Earlier this month, I attended the very last regular season Big East men’s basketball game between Georgetown and Syracuse. I’m sure that ESPN’s wall-to-wall broadcast of the game was spectacular in all its HD glory. But nothing can beat actually being there–hearing the chants, watching legends like Patrick Ewing high five the fans, and seeing subtleties in the game that television simply can’t capture.

I recently had a similar experience when I traveled to New Zealand to talk about the trade opportunities in the Asia-Pacific and, specifically, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations. After over 25 meetings with government officials, negotiators, trade thinkers, and business representatives, I returned home with a much fuller and more nuanced appreciation of the opportunities and challenges for trade in the greater East Asian region.

In particular, four things stood out in my discussions with resident experts and thoughtful observers in the region:

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