(Thomas F. McLarty III – Washington Post)
As President Obama makes the case for expansive new trade agreements, he has had to contend with the vexing image of the last big trade deal debated in the national spotlight, the North American Free Trade Agreement. In the perception of some Americans, including a significant number of Democrats, NAFTA has become a cautionary tale, invoked today as a warning that similar deals will harm the U.S. economy.
This is unfortunate on two counts. First, comparing the substance of current negotiations to NAFTA, an agreement reached at the end of the Cold War and the dawn of globalization, is like comparing the latest smartphone to an early Macintosh desktop. The 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement being hammered out by the administration is more sophisticated, comprehensive and user-friendly than NAFTA was in its day. It would also connect the United States to a much larger global network. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman is negotiating a state-of-the-art agreement, and Obama has advanced persuasive arguments for both the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trade Promotion Authority he needs to seal the deal. Click here to read more. Click here to read more.
Note: McLarty was White House chief of staff and special envoy for the Americas in the Clinton administration and now operates a Washington-based trade consulting firm.