In his Free Trade think piece, Eamonn Butler argued that protectionism is never far below the surface and can make concluding additional agreements a “hard slog.” Indeed, in the United States a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll in September 2010 showed 69% of Americans believe free trade costs jobs.
While these sentiments have not stopped Congressional Republicans from calling on President Barack Obama to send them several free trade agreements for ratification, they could have a detrimental impact on the complex Doha Development Agenda negotiations. For the rest of the world, a failed DDA could leave $360 billion in new trade on the table and set the cause of free trade back substantially. How have UK diplomats in Washington, challenged by PM David Cameron to be “Economic Ambassadors for Britain,” responded? With a full-court press across the U.S.
In February, the British Embassy to Washinton released a report entitled The Doha trade round: what it can mean for the 50 states. The study, which breaks out the jobs created and boost in gross state product in each state, does a great job of taking national statistics and boiling them down into numbers relevant for an average citizen. Furthermore, the Embassy did not just release a report and move back to high politics. Instead, Ambassador Sir Nigel Sheinwald, has been crisscrossing the country to boost support for the round in particular and free trade in general.
A few noteworthy articles underline these efforts:
- British Ambassador Sir Nigel Sheinwald talks trade at the Chicago Council of Global Affairs
- Ambassador promotes UK business in trade mission to the Northeast
- British Ambassador Talks Trade in Tallahassee
And this is just in the United States. Around the world, the FCO has been actively promoting free trade in response to Prime Minster David Cameron’s July 2010 mandate that “we've got to re-fight the argument for free trade all over again." Dr. Butler would likely agree.