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P.E. Release: P.E. Executive Director Ed Gresser named “Scholar in Residence” at USTR for Winter 2014

“This appointment is a remarkable recognition of the impact ProgressiveEconomy has made on American trade policymaking in its first three years,” said Claude G.B. Fontheim, Chairman of the GlobalWorks Foundation, which is ProgressiveEconomy’s parent organization. “We are very proud that Ed has been chosen as the first Scholar in Residence in USTR’s 52-year history, and all the more so at such a critical moment for America’s trade agenda.”

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P.E. Director Ed Gresser Receives Washington International Trade Association “Lighthouse Award”

WITA is Washington’s main international trade professional association, and has given the Lighthouse Award annually since 2008 to recognize “contributions made over the course of a career to trade policy, the understanding of global trade, or expanding the benefits of global trade.” Also recognized at this year’s dinner were Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. David Camp (R-MI); Representative Greg Meeks (D-NY), who is also a member of ProgressiveEconomy’s Advisory Board, and newly appointed U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.

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Astonishing story –

From Pakistan’s excellent newspaper Dawn: six polio-vaccine workers killed within the last week: http://dawn.com/2012/12/19/polio-teams-attacked-in-peshawar-nowshera/.

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An appreciation of the European Union

from Paul Berman in The New Republic, as the EU gets its Nobel Peace Prize: http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/magazine/110863/how-europe-earned-its-nobel-peace-prize

Sample: “The EU comprises by now most of the European continent, and, in those portions, the possibility of wars breaking out has reached the level statistically known as zero. Here is something new under the sun. And the achievement is being marked in a suitable manner—not by a military parade with planes overhead and tanks ruining the pavement, but modestly and quietly, in a simple and probably slightly melancholy prize ceremony in Oslo, to which everyone ought to say, hooray.”

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Bracing response –

from Oxfam to our November 28th Trade Fact (at http://progressive-economy.org/india-has-invalidated-rejected-or-otherwise-compromised-five-cancer-medicine-patents-this-year/) on patents from Oxfam:

“We do not believe there was ever a global consensus in support of the intellectual property (IP) approach promoted by USTR, as implied in your article. The TRIPS Agreement sets out minimum standards for IP protection, and explicitly includes a series of exceptions and limitations to IP rights that may be used by governments in order to achieve public policy objectives, including improvement of health outcomes. We have long been puzzled by efforts to portray compulsory licensing as a legal tool that may only be used during health “crises” or “emergencies”. Put simply, this interpretation is unsupported by the text of the Agreement itself. Similarly, the Doha Declaration confirms the right of countries to use all IP flexibilities in TRIPS “especially” – not “only” – in relation to health emergencies and pandemics.”

Note: P.E. welcomes good-faith critiques and alternative perspectives on the topics we address, and publishes them on an ‘as-appropriate’ basis. We stand by our work, but also appreciate Oxfam’s interest in it and are pleased to publish their response.

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World’s biggest container ship etc. –

UNCTAD’s 2012 Review of Maritime Transport came out yesterday and is available at http://unctad.org/en/pages/publications/Review-of-Maritime-Transport-(Series).aspx . Two interesting bits of information –

(1) The world’s container fleet grew by 134 ships last year – from 4,868 ships to 5,012 ships last year – and added 1.3 million more TEUs of capacity. (A “TEU” is basically a container, or more technically an acronym stands for “twenty-foot-equivalent,” since a standard shipping container is 20 feet long, 8 feet wide and 8 ½ feet high.) The container fleet of 2011 could carry 14.1 million containers around at any one moment, and the fleet of 2012 can carry 15.4 million. Total global container capacity in 1990 was only 1.5 million TEUs.

(2) For rich countries, logistics costs are about 6.5 percent of the cost of imports. The U.S. tariff rate, on average and excluding trade from FTA partners, is about 1.7 percent. So for most goods, physical costs are a much higher ‘trade barrier’ than tariff policy.

(3) The biggest container ship in the world, CMG Marco Polo, carries 16,000 TEUs and started its first voyage (from Ningbo to Southhampton, Rotterdam, and Hamburg and back), on November 8th. The first container ship in the world, Ideal-X, launched in 1956 and carried 58 TEUs.

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Introducing the blog –

ProgressiveEconomy is very pleased to introduce our new blog. Here are a few comments as we get started.

Progressive Economy develops ideas and practical public policy solutions for trade, globalization, foreign policy and American competiveness to promote widely shared prosperity and opportunity, strengthen peace and security, establish and enhance the rule of law, encourage scientific and technological progress, and reduce global poverty. Former President Clinton laid the foundation for such a framework in his call to “put a human face on the global economy.”

Our work produces serious but accessible analysis on complex topics, meant for engaged people. We are pro-growth while incorporating the values of the American progressive tradition. We favor market based policies while recognizing a robust role for government and the rule of law. We are convinced that it is important to engage in good-faith argument and principled debate, and optimistic about the power of people and ideas to bring change for the better.

Our hope is that our blog will help our friends and members share information, broaden access to little-noticed but important facts and data; and help build support for good ideas, whether they are original with us or come from the Obama Administration and its successors, scholars, NGOs, advocacy groups, Congress, other analysts, or other governments. We will certainly use it to share our own thoughts, but we also plan to give some attention to good ideas from other sources, and on occasion interesting or perceptive critiques of our work. And every once in a while, we hope to help friends rebut off-target ideas or criticism.

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