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Archive for March, 2013

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 Bipartisan Opportunity in Advanced Energy Manufacturing

March 27th, 2013

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Our nation’s history is proof that manufacturing jobs lead to middle-class growth. At roughly the same time manufacturing’s share of the total workforce dropped from 20% to 9%, the middle class has shrunk from 61% of the U.S. population to 51%. While the U.S. manufacturing sector has recovered 500,000 jobs since early 2010, a major opportunity is surfacing in the clean energy sector. A $7 trillion clean energy market is developing around the world, and clean energy manufacturing provides an opportunity to renew and modernize our manufacturing sector.

The Obama Administration is already moving to help companies seize the clean energy opportunities. The Department of Energy is launching a new Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative (CEMI), focused on growing American manufacturing of clean energy products. Led by Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, the initiative includes modern analysis of the global clean energy manufacturing supply chain to inform the Department’s future funding decisions. This is a program that will empower companies to use our nation’s competitive advantages for their and America’s gain. It is ensuring our government is the most-well-informed government in the world and can help American companies out-compete the likes of China, South Korea, or Germany.

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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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Tax reform progressing in spite of fiscal gridlock

March 11th, 2013

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President Obama and his Republican dining companions showed last week that bipartisan schmoozing is back. Whether bipartisan deal-making will follow is anyone’s guess. But if it does, there are reasons to believe tax reform will be on the menu.

The most visible movement on tax reform is in the House of Representatives. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) last week announced that the bill name “H.R. 1” would be reserved for tax reform. Traditionally, House speakers have given that title to bills that are among their top priorities. Consider some of the recent bills with that name: the stimulus package of 2009 and the Medicare prescription drug law of 2003.

The H.R. 1 designation signals the end of an internal Republican dispute over whether to proceed with tax reform. Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-OH) previously advised the party to avoid the issue, because its progress could require votes on controversial topics like the mortgage and charitable deductions. But now, with Boehner’s blessing, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) has a green light to pursue his priority issue.

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