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B school needed for Democrats as they obstruct progress on trade

The news is that President Obama is trying to jump start trade in Asia. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, I participated in Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) events held in Tokyo, and in conjunction with the University of California at Berkeley. The first conference was about “Information Literacy” as a foundation for advancing economies and electronic commerce that was breaking out in 1997. What I learned is that the United States did not need to dominate the conversation. I observed developing relationships that linked South American nations with Asian nations. One conclusion at that conference was that English was the universal language of business, but that individual nations could coexist with a fair amount of independence. China was as much at home as any other nation, and that would portend their emergence as a vastly growing economic opportunity.

Obama headed to Japan for trade talks
Getty Images/The Hill

“Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, is the premier forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. APEC's 21 Member Economies are the United States; Australia; Brunei Darussalam; Canada; Chile; China; Hong Kong, China; Indonesia; Japan; Malaysia; Mexico; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; Peru; The Philippines; Russia; Singapore; Republic of Korea; Chinese Taipei; Thailand; and Viet Nam. Robert S. Wang is the U.S. Senior Official for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).”

What I didn’t see at those events at that time were Congressional representatives, or their staff members being in attendance to observe, listen, and learn (without intrusion). Senator Elizabeth Warren, the first lady to emerge as a leader in the Democratic Party beside Hillary Clinton, has said that she shifted from being a Republican in 1996 to becoming a Democrat because before she believed that Republicans were better at managing the economy. Evidence changed her mind and she changed her party affiliation. Now, we have seen how Obama-led Democrats rescued the American economy from overspending and tax policy disasters of George W. Bush, but we have not seen either party address sustainable economics.

The news today is about Obama wanting legislation that will open market access and expand trade opportunity with Japan being a part of the centerpiece. It is complex legislation and the global economy is complex in scope and scale. It does not appear that US representatives in Congress in either party are equipped with essential skill, knowledge, and experience to address global trade and economics. Harvard may be a good place to educate bureaucrats, for instance, but is it the best place to educate representatives about economics, and the emerging necessity for sustainable economics? That’s a hard question for voters to think about as they approach Elections 2014 and 2016.

“Obama seeks boost for flagging trade agenda in Asia-Pacific trip

By Vicki Needham

President Obama is heading to the Asia-Pacific next week to try and build support for a massive trade deal that is central to his economic agenda and America’s strategic pivot toward the region.
The White House is intensifying efforts to wrap up the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would expand trade from the Pacific Rim to Latin America, but is struggling to break a stalemate with Japan over market access. The pact is also facing staunch opposition from congressional Democrats.

Obama is looking to build momentum for the deal during a four-nation Asia trip.

The key meetings will come Wednesday and Thursday, when Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo are expected to review the status of outstanding negotiating issues in Japan’s sensitive auto and agricultural sectors.
The president is expected to underscore the importance of Japan’s participation in the TPP for both economies while reminding Tokyo of its commitment to refrain from slowing down the talks or reopening closed issues, a senior administration official told reporters on Friday.

Susan Rice, the president's national security adviser, said negotiators have made a great deal of progress over the last few months on the trade deal “and we expect very much that the president's travels and our continued work in the coming weeks and months on TPP will continue to yield progress.”

“We expect that as a result of that, we will be able to conclude an agreement,” she said.
Trade analysts don’t expect Obama to single-handedly break the logjam between Tokyo and Washington, but they are hoping for some that a dose of diplomacy will propel the negotiations forward.

“We expect them to come out and say that, ‘We see a way forward and we’re very optimistic in getting this done as quickly as possible,’” said Tami Overby, vice president for Asia at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.”

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