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Suspending Trade Privileges a Tiny Twig to Push Worker Rights in Bangladesh

The Obama administration has announced the suspension of Bangladesh’s trade benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) over the country’s failure to improve working conditions and protect worker rights. The decision is not surprising given the problems in Bangladesh, but, as I noted here in January, it is purely symbolic. First, GSP does not include clothing. Second, it accounts for a trivial $35 million of duty-free exports, or less than 1 percent of Bangladesh’s total exports to the United States, most of which (90 percent) is clothing. Meanwhile, most Bangladeshi exports face an average duty of 15 percent, one of the highest rates in the US market.

Seeing Africa as Business Partner, Not Charity: Todd Moss and Scott Morris on Obama’s Trip to Africa

To get a sense of what this trip means for Obama’s African legacy and the expectations of his hosts, I invited CGD vice president Todd Moss and visiting fellow Scott Morris to be my guests on this week’s Wonkcast. Todd and Scott served as deputy assistant secretaries in the George Walker Bush and Obama administrations, respectively, Todd in the State Department (where he was oversaw US relations with west Africa) and Scott at Treasury (where he was responsible for the US role in multilateral institutions, including the African Development Bank). I’m eager to hear whether or not their views differ on how Obama can best build a stronger relationship with Africa.

Two Challenges for New US Trade Rep Michael Froman

First, congratulations. In a rare show of bipartisanship, the US Senate overwhelmingly confirmed Michael Froman, previously the president’s top international economic adviser in the White House, as the new US Trade Representative (93-4). Ambassador Froman will have his plate full, with the “mega-regional” negotiations in the Pacific and with the European Union. But I also hope he won’t forget “working to foster development through trade,” as he pledged at his swearing-in.

Global Citizens on the Rise

This is a joint post with Christian Meyer.

Last year I (Nancy) was asked to contribute to the inaugural project of the Global Citizen Foundation (GCF), a new Geneva-based organization that aims to support “research and educational programs that reveal the preferences, capabilities, and choices of the world’s citizens.”  Other researchers on the project include Franklin Allen, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania; three CGD Advisory Group members, Jere Behrman, Dani Rodrik, and Andrew Steer; and Arvind Subramanian, a CGD senior fellow. Together we have compiled a set of six thematic studies on finance, demographic challenges, economic growth, resource scarcity, trade integration,

Obama’s Africa Trip: Expectations and the Unexpected

President Obama is wheels up for Africa Wednesday. The White House and US development agencies have been unusually quiet prior to departure, but some things are sure to be on the agenda: economic growth, trade, investment, democracy, youth, food security, and health. Obama is widely expected to announce a new power initiative. But Nelson Mandela’s failing health could dramatically shift the trips’ tone and focus.

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