The Obama Administration's Trade Agenda is Crumbling

4 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2014

Date Written: March 19, 2014


The nation has been living with the Obama administration’s trade policy for five years, with relatively little to show for it. In the remaining three years, is the executive branch likely to obtain Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and successfully conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)? Although free traders very much want all of this to happen, hard-headed experience indicates it’s most likely that the administration will accomplish none of this.

Why such a downbeat conclusion? Debates over the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Uruguay Round in the 1990s illustrated how very difficult it could be to build support for the negotiation of trade agreements and for the passage of enacting legislation. Building such support requires a firm commitment to the cause of trade liberalization, an understanding of the economics that make open markets so desirable, an eagerness to explain the benefits to those who are undecided, and a willingness to invest a whole lot of political capital to round up the required votes. It’s not clear whether any of those conditions currently exist.

Keywords: Trade Promotion Authority, TPA, Trans-Pacific Partnership, TPP, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP, trade liberalization, North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA

JEL Classification: F1, F13, F17, P45

Suggested Citation

Pearson, Daniel R., The Obama Administration's Trade Agenda is Crumbling (March 19, 2014). Cato Institute Free Trade Bulletin No. 58, Available at SSRN:

Daniel R. Pearson (Contact Author)

Cato Institute ( email )

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Washington, DC 20001-5403
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