The Bush administration and Democratic leaders have struck a compromise that would insert stricter labor rules into future trade treaties, potentially lending fresh momentum to the global effort to promote free trade… Under the plan, the trade deals signed with Peru, Panama and Colombia would have to be renegotiated with their governments before they can be revised and submitted to Congress for a vote, raising the possibility they could be killed by opposition in those countries.
I read the story as saying that this compromise is a deal to pass already completed trade agreements — it “does not apply to the president’s quest for an extension of his so-called fast-track authority.” But the lead paragraph implies that it has implications for Doha. The confusion ought to clear up when the compromise is actually announced.
UPDATE: Plenty of newspapers carried the story this morning. See Bloomberg and NYT.
Fredrik Erixon asks: “Some sources says labour and environmental standards should be invoked in trade deals, but does that only apply to future negotiations or also to already finished agreements that awaits Congress approval? Furthermore, some media sources mentions Doha in their reports, but does this deal contain a new TPA for the round as well?”
The deal isn’t concrete yet (Bloomberg: “It seems some of the details are still getting ironed out.”), but it’s certain that the current agreement only applies to Peru and Panama. Colombia and South Korea are being discussed. No TPA.
The deal may serve as a template for future discussions of trade, but it has no legal bearing on them. As far as I can tell, the newspaper accounts mention Doha because USTR Susan Schwab is saying that the deal will help her at the WTO negotiations, but I see little basis for that claim.
This is really bad news, IMHO. The Trojan horse of protectionism can now masquerade under the rubric of labor and environmental standards. It’s a slippery slope; once you start on it…