Tag Archives: trade

Fast track trade authority passes in House

The House today passed a revised fast track authority bill for any trade bills that President Obama might negotiate.

This bill did not include the job training section that was defeated last week and that the Senate included in its version of fast track. Thus, the Senate must now vote again on fast track, this time on the House-passed version. It is unclear whether the Senate will agree, as Democrats have opposed fast track without the jobs aid.

Overall this whole incident illustrates how misguided our elected leaders are. Right now we have much bigger problems than negotiating a new trade agreement, especially considering the secrecy in which Obama wishes to complete that negotiation.

Things look bad for Obamatrade fast track

It is early and the vote hasn’t yet happened, but it appears that the House is going to reject fast track trade authority for Obama.

I need to provide some clarification. This fast track authority is not an actual trade bill, but a procedure that has been used since FDR to make the negotiation process on trade bills easier for the president. For some reason Congress needs to now renew it for Obama.

That Congressmen from both parties are reluctant to renew this grant of presidential power indicates a shift of political power back to Congress. The argument, that this power has been routinely granted since FDR, is not carrying the weight it once did. Instead, there is movement to refuse the president this extra power, partly because there is distrust of Obama because of his abuses of power and executive authority and partly because the voters have elected a lot of new congressmen who in general just don’t like giving presidents more power.

Expect this shift to increase in the coming years. It appears to me that this battle over fast track might be a very positive sign for the future.

China to build a new canal in Central America

The competition heats up: With approval from Nicaragua, China has inched closer to beginning construction of a new canal that would connect the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

A month ago, a Nicaraguan committee approved Chinese billionaire Wang Jing’s project to create The Nicaraguan Canal. With a planned capacity to accommodate ships with loaded displacement of 400,000 tons (notably bigger than The Panama Canal), the proposed 278-kilometer-long canal that will run across the Nicaragua isthmus would probably change the landscape of the world’s maritime trade.

“The project is the largest infrastructure project ever in the history of man in terms of engineering difficulty, investment scale, workload and its global impact,” Wang told reporters, adding that with regard the project’s financing, which is around $50 billion, Wang seems quite confident, “If you can deliver, you will find all the world’s money at your disposal.”

Scouring the Aegean Sea for the world’s oldest shipwrecks.

Scouring the Aegean Sea for the world’s oldest shipwrecks.

A Bronze Age wreck called Ulu Burun shows how the remains of a single ship can transform archaeologists’ understanding of an era. Discovered in 1982, it lies about 9 kilometres southeast of Kaş in southern Turkey, and dates from around 1300 BC, a century or two after the Minoans disappeared.

Christos Agourides, secretary-general of the Hellenic Institute of Marine Archaeology in Athens, describes it as “the dream of every marine archaeologist”. It took ten years to excavate, and researchers are still studying the nearly 17 tonnes of treasures recovered. The vast cargo includes ebony, ivory, ostrich eggs, resin, spices, weapons, jewellery and textiles as well as ingots of copper, tin and glass.

But what really stunned archaeologists was that the artefacts on this one vessel came from at least 11 different cultures1 — from a gold scarab bearing the name of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti to copper from Cyprus and tin from central Asia.

The wreck provided tangible evidence of an astonishing array of contacts and trade between the different cultures of the Mediterranean and Near East in the late Bronze Age. The Ulu Burun ship sailed at around the time that Tutankhamun ruled Egypt, and “it is far more important than Tutankhamun’s tomb as a contribution to our understanding of the period”, according to Wachsmann. “This goes to the nitty gritty of the world. It’s Wall Street in a ship.”