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Elliott was with the Peterson Institute for many years before joining the Center full-time. Her books published there include Can International Labor Standards Improve under Globalization? (with Richard B. Freeman, 2003), Corruption and the Global Economy (1997), Reciprocity and Retaliation in US Trade Policy (with Thomas O. Bayard, 1994), Measuring the Costs of Protection in the United States (with Gary Hufbauer, 1994), and Economic Sanctions Reconsidered (with Gary Hufbauer and Jeffrey Schott, 3rd. ed., 2007). She served on a National Research Council committee on Monitoring International Labor Standards and on the USDA Consultative Group on the Elimination of Child Labor in US Agricultural Imports, and is currently a member of the National Advisory Committee for Labor Provisions in US Free Trade Agreements. Elliott received a Master of Arts degree, with distinction, in security studies and international economics from the Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies (1984) and a Bachelor of Arts degree, with honors in political science, from Austin College (1982). In 2004, Austin College named her a Distinguished Alumna.
The United States is not using trade as effectively as it might to promote development. The executive and legislative branches of the US government have long recognized that trade can be an important tool to help poorer countries generate resources, create jobs, and reduce poverty. They also recognize that growth in developing countries contributes to global prosperity and growing markets for US exporters as well. Despite that, the few significant US trade barriers that remain often target agricultural and labor-intensive products in which developing countries have a comparative advantage.
Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finally released proposed targets for blending biofuels with gasoline and diesel for 2014 (18 months late) and for the current year (6 months late).
The Senate approved the much-debated, and delayed, trade promotion authority (TPA) bill just in time to head off for the Memorial Day recess. The fate of the bill in the even more fractious House of Representatives remains uncertain, as does the US role as leader of an open, rules-based trade system.
Even as Congress was mandating large increases in the consumption of biofuels a decade ago, the world was changing. In the early 2000s, replacing fossil
fuels with biofuels made from corn, sugar, or oilseeds seemed like a good idea. Increased crop demand would prop up prices for farmers, and replacing
petroleum with renewable energy would reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and promote energy independence.
Trade is a key tool to bring food security to an estimated 800 million people around the world that remain chronically
undernourished. Many countries need reliable access to international markets to supplement their inadequate domestic food supplies. Better
policies to make agriculture in developing countries more productive and profitable, including via exports, would also help alleviate food insecurity and
reduce poverty. Stronger international trade rules would help by constraining the beggar-thy-neighbor policies that distort trade, contribute to price
volatility, and discourage investments in developing-country agriculture.
Many Americans see trade openness as a threat. Yet access to rich-country markets is crucial for poor people in developing countries to improve their lives. In a new CGD brief based on her essay in The White House and the World: A Global Development Agenda for the Next U.S. President, senior fellow Kimberly Elliott suggests a trade policy approach that would address Americans’ concerns and still be pro-poor. One ingredient: treat market access for the world’s poorest countries as a development issue, not trade policy.
Representatives from the 12 countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement are in Hawaii this week trying to close the deal. US negotiators are insisting that Canada must reform its supply management system for dairy and allow more imports, while conceding that maybe the United States could let in just a wee bit more foreign sugar, as long as it doesn’t disrupt the US supply management program for sugar! Being a big, powerful country is great. But if you’re a small country, and particularly a relatively poor one, trade negotiations are trickier. And if you are a poor country outside the negotiations, you have no say at all on how the negotiations will affect your interests.
Despite six decades of trade liberalization, trade policies in rich countries still discriminate against the exports of the world’s poorest countries. Much remains to be done to achieve the goal of meaningful market access for the poorest countries, including reformed rules of origin that facilitate rather than inhibit trade.
Sugar is a prototypical case of a policy that favors the few at the expense of the many. Thanks to a government policy that supports prices by sharply restricting imports, a small number of American sugar cane and beet growers are enriched at the expense of US consumers and of more efficient foreign growers, most of whom are in poorer developing countries.