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Jun 1, 201503:00 PMVan Lines

with Joe Vanden Plas

Trade leads the president’s small biz agenda

(page 1 of 2)

From the pages of In Business magazine.

It won’t be long before the phrase “lame duck” is applied to President Obama, but he still has an ambitious small business agenda of tax reform, greater access to capital, and, especially, trade. That agenda was spelled out by Jay Williams, assistant secretary of commerce for economic development, on a recent visit to Madison.

Economic growth, already lower than in past recoveries, slowed down to a crawl in the first quarter of 2015, in part due to sluggish exports. One of the most significant things Washington can do to boost growth is for Congress to give the president the authority to negotiate trade deals with Pacific and European nations.

At the moment, the United States is negotiating two trade agreements, one with allies in the Pacific Rim and one with Europe. Based on the skepticism of fellow Democrats, who thwarted trade promotion authority in a May 12 procedural vote, Williams conceded the deals would not only have to lower trade barriers, like tariffs on American goods, they would have to increase environmental and fair labor standards among trading partners, which many Democrats view as flaws in past deals.

“I was the mayor of Youngstown, Ohio, and I know previous trade deals have not always lived up to the hype,” Williams acknowledged. “The president is intent on learning the lessons from previous trade deals.”


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