The Art of Trade

Beauty in art – and the shape of our food – is in the eye of the beholder. Boston is experiencing Frida Fever thanks to the Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts’ first-ever Frida Kahlo exhibit. Kahlo helped make Mexican folk art famous. Now the artisan sector is the second-largest employer in the developing world after agriculture, worth over $32 billion every year. We take a closer look at the art of trade, and also look at the rise of “ugly” produce, food standards in global trade, and food waste.

Breaking Bad Trade

At least 80 percent of fentanyl in the United States was shipped by mail from China – yes, the U.S. Postal Service. The Centers for Disease Control says fentanyl has caused a “third wave” of drug-related overdose deaths in the United States. In this new article, TradeVistas explores whether U.S.-China trade talks will help address this deadly issue. Meanwhile, the Trump administration’s unprecedented use of Section 232 to impose tariffs in the name of national security is taking more twists and turns with the launch this week of its fifth such investigation. We deliver what you need to know about Section 232 of U.S. trade law and the national security exception.

Community Matters

How do we understand and feel about the impact of trade on our communities? Ethnic neighborhoods across the United States – from Little Havana in Miami to San Francisco’s Chinatown – allow us to experience elements of a culture and cuisine without needing to break out a passport. Columnist Leslie Griffin writes about how trade supports the vibrant Italian culture of Boston’s North End neighborhood. We also look at how steel tariffs are pitting workers’ interest against one another, causing conflicting feelings about trade protections within the same communities.

Invisible Trade

Newer forms of computing brains are coming online and there’s an entire class of seemingly invisible global transactions burgeoning. Governments are actively writing standards, regulations, and issuing strategic directives around new digital technologies. Their visions will inform eventual global disciplines around digital trade. All of us will need to be informed about what these technologies are and how they will shape the future of trade. We modestly begin with two offerings on artificial intelligence (AI) and an overview of industry concerns about the proliferation of barriers to digital trade.

Guns N’ Roses

In our Valentine’s Day edition, we take a look at trade in roses and how trade policy was deployed in the fight against cocaine trafficking from Colombia. Until the late 1980s, most roses sold in the United States came from California. After the enactment of the Andean Trade Preferences Act in 1991, American rose production has dropped 95 percent. The explanation is years of U.S. Government trade, development, and drug eradication policies designed to move South American growers away from cultivating the coca plant used to make cocaine, by substituting commercially profitable production of cut flowers. Also this week, we analyze recent polls to see if our love has rekindled for NAFTA, and/or flamed out for tariffs.

A High Wire Trade Act

The current administration’s use of Section 232 to impose trade-restrictive measures on imports of steel and aluminum has become the source of increasing domestic discontent among steel-using industries, farmers who are the target of retaliatory tariffs, and Members of Congress who are reconsidering handing delegated powers over trade to the President. It has also put WTO dispute settlement to an unwelcome test. This week, we look at the historical uses of Section 232 and also tap into the growing world of online microwork and freelancing.

Cash Feeding China

Boston v. LA Trade Super Bowl

China’s SOEs are paid to overproduce. Are new trade rules needed? In the latest article in our unfair competition series, we look at how China’s state-owned enterprises are propped up by government cash. On a lighter note and in advance of Super Bowl Sunday, we also share a trade showdown infographic illustrating the exporting profile of the metropolitan area where each team is located. Is Boston or Los Angeles the big trade winner?

Fishing for WTO Progress

In a new survey conducted by the World Economic Forum (WEF), global leaders cite geo-economic tensions as the top risk for 2019. These leaders from government, business, and civil society are most concerned about economic confrontations among the world’s major powers and erosion of World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and agreements. We continue our ongoing series on competition policy and subsidies with a look at ongoing negotiations at the WTO to reduce subsidies that contribute to overfishing.

Disciplining Bad Behavior

This week we look at the ongoing U.S.-China trade talks and explain why there’s no quick fix to be had even if a deal is struck. We also examine whether provisions in trade agreements can adequately address the problem of anti-competitive behavior and discuss whether trade wars are dampening the appetite for new merger and acquisition deals in 2019.

Competition of Ideas

In the very big picture, the U.S.-China trade talks are really about a competition of ideas about how a free market operates – the invisible hand versus the hand of government. In this newsletter we launch a new series of articles focused on the relationship between competition policies and trade disciplines. We also take a look at the role of state-owned enterprises and various forms of subsidies in key economies such as China’s.