Mr. President, about those bilateral deals

This is an on-going series where I pretend to be the White House Chief Strategist and offer the advice he should be hearing

Mr. President,

At last count, we have filled only 14 of the 549 positions we need to run the government. I’m very concerned that your trade agenda is going to be adversely affected if we don’t give our cabinet ministers the staff they need/asked for. Here are a few facts you need to be aware of:

  1. Bilateral deals take years to negotiate. Canada and South Korea, two countries whose economies are roughly the same size, took 7 years to negotiate a trade agreement.
  2. The EU is taking a hard-line stance against the UK in Brexit talks. I know you want to sign a deal with the UK, but their priority will have to be Europe, much more of their trade depends on Europe than the US.
  3. If we try a shotgun approach, what’s to stop the counter party from sharing information with other countries?
  4. We are severely understaffed.

We won the election promising to tear up trade deals and making life better for workers. But at this rate, we won’t get anything done until the end of your 2nd term. In the meantime, corporations are going to continue to send jobs overseas. Guess who will be blamed?

Maybe we should pick up the baton from the previous administration? The Transatlantic and TPP deals might not be perfect, but it’ll be easier to tweak them than start anew.

You proved that we need to add provisions to protect labour in trade deals. I’m sure given our enormous influence we have in the world, we can convince our allies and trading partners that they should do the same.

And don’t worry about the voters. Yes, they’re skeptical of trade deals, but if we represent their interests, they’ll come around.

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