Trade Metaphor: Even Empty Stadiums Have Level Playing Fields

By June 24, 2010General, Trade

Our friend Stephen Lamar, executive vice president at the American Apparel and Footwear Association (an NAM-member association), passes on this telling photo and cogent critique of Congressional inaction on pending Free Trade Agreements.  It’s so good we’d thought we share it:

As the world’s attention stays riveted on South Africa to watch the World Cup and as we in your Nation’s Capitol look forward to Nationals pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg’s next start, our minds inevitably wander into sports.

I was recently shown this picture of the stadium and was told that this is a good metaphor for U.S. trade policy because it shows a level playing field. 

Perhaps it is a good metaphor for U.S. trade policy but for a lot more reasons.

 True, it is a level playing field, but…

….nobody is in the stands

….nobody is on the field (certainly the American team is missing)

….no referees are present (although recent US soccer history suggests this may not always be such a bad thing)

….it is impossible to score (there aren’t any goal posts – maybe, as some have argued, because they have been moved so much)

….the lines are so faint we aren’t even sure which game we are playing (although I suspect it may have recently been used for soccer).

Perhaps this is overly harsh.  But, while we have seen some encouraging signs on trade recently – the energy driving the National Export Initiative (NEI) is reassuring, Congress approved new Haiti preferences, and the TPP process seems fully underway – there are too many other flags on the field (although absent from the picture I know) that continue to raise concern.  The Misc Tariff Bill process has dragged on far too long with resolution uncertain. 

Absent a Hail Mary pass in a lame duck session this year, this Congress will hold the distinction as being the first one to not approve a free trade agreement this century, even though there are three perfectly good ones (Colombia, Korea, and Panama)  sitting on the benches (again, no benches, I know.  Judging by the speed with which Canada and the EU, among others, are negotiating, completing, and approving trade agreements with those same countries, there seems to be a lot of activity in other stadiums.  

Leave a Reply