Alternatives: The New Rules of the Road: A Progressive Approach to Globalization

By Jared Bernstein and Lori Wallach

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The emergence of trade as a top election issue shows that the economic and social costs imposed by our current trade policy model have reached a tipping point. For purveyors of the status quo, this is a crisis, as the inherent inequities in their approach to trade have finally surfaced. For those of us who have long recognized such inequities, the current moment presents an opportunity tocraft a new model, a new set of “rules of the road.” Far from trying to set back the clock onglobalization, it is only through this new, far more inclusive, non-corporate-centric approach that we can rebuild American support for expanded trade.

This will not occur by continuing to assert that, despite their experiences, those who perceive themselves and their communities as having been hurt by exposure to the forces of globalization are just plain wrong. Or that the next trade agreement will be the one that fixes everything. Or by offering the increasingly large portion of the population who find themselves on the losing side of the current rules some temporary adjustment assistance.

It will only change if we change the content of our trade agreements and, in turn, the process bywhich we negotiate them. The “new rules of the road” must reflect the economic realities andneeds of a much broader group of stakeholders. Crucially, to achieve such rules will require much greater transparency and inclusiveness in the policymaking process, helping to ensure that the resulting substantive rules represent the needs of the majority. This memo focuses on the substantive and procedural changes needed to realize these goals.