In an earlier post, I quoted the Economist taking the view that the new Democratic Congress would be more skeptical on trade issues. Now someone has tried to quantify this point. Simon Evenett and Michael Meier of the Swiss Institute for International Economics and Applied Economic Research at the University of St. Gallen have compared all of the new members of Congress with those they are replacing. (Hat to Ben Muse for pointing me to this). They conclude as follows:
Here are the principal findings concerning the election campaigns of the newcomers to the
next U.S. Congress:
• Democrats raised trade-related matters far more often than Republicans.
• All of the new Democratic Senators had bad things to say about trade reform.
• The free trade agreements (FTAs) signed by the Bush Administration were prominent targets of Democrats' ire, with half of Democrats making the CAFTA agreement an election issue.
• In contrast, very few Democrats made critical references to the WTO or the Doha Round.
• Many Democrats campaigned on platforms to include labour and environmental standards in trade agreements.
Where possible, we compared the stance taken by a newcomer to Congress with the
member that they will replace. We found:
• In the Senate 6 seats held by "trade-friendly" Senators will soon be held by individuals who fought campaigns that are, at best, described as "trade-sceptic."
• In the House 16 seats held by "trade-friendly" Representatives will soon be held by individuals who fought campaigns that are, at best, described as "trade-sceptic."
• There were no cases of a "trade-sceptic" being replaced a "trade-friendly" member in either chamber.
What are the likely implications for U.S. trade policy? On the basis of the evidence presented here:
• Should any TPA extension go forward, labour and environmental strings are likely to be attached--a step that is almost certain to infuriate the developing country trading partners of the USA.
• Given the ire directed by newcomers towards U.S. FTAs in their election campaigns, one option available to the U.S. Administration may be to seek--when the timing is right--a TPA extension for the completion of the Doha Round only.
• Dark clouds must now loom over the approval of any FTA brought before the new Congress. Uncertainties over Congressional ratification may well cause U.S. trade negotiators to be even tougher on potential FTA partners, and those partners may well be discouraged by the extra concessions sought and the growing likelihood that any deal will never come into force.
• This constitutes a major blow to the U.S. Administration's trade strategy of "Competitive Liberalization." Far from building a domestic political consensus behind trade reform, as USTR Zeollick had originally hoped, this strategy has probably created the seeds of its own destruction.
Read the whole paper to see all the details.
It looks like Global Trade Watch has done a similar study, with similar results: http://www.citizen.org/trade/articles.cfm?ID=15907