Our Views: A Bali high for trade

While it’s a long way from the bayous to Bali, the decisions made at the Asian resort by the World Trade Organization are helpful for us in Louisiana.

As the port outlet of the Mississippi River and the inland waterways of the United States, our state has a profound financial interest in free trade. Unfortunately, the WTO has been snarled in controversies related to the 2008 financial crash and resulting world economic recession. Add to that the inherent difficulty of getting 159 member-nations to agree on anything.

Yet the Bali talks resulted in some nudging of the leading economies to work together on the trade issues arising out of vastly differing rates of recovery from the recession.

If the United States can follow up with successful negotiations now under way with trading partners from both the Atlantic and Pacific basins, and if Bali indicates that WTO rules will be enforced more effectively in future, the prospect for growing world commerce improve.

The same U.S. delegation to Bali went the relatively short distance to Singapore to continue the talks on Pacific trade. The “Trans-Pacific Partnership” is one that is strongly backed by U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, and is a bipartisan undertaking on Capitol Hill. The partnership would expand trade with the half-dozen partners that the U.S. has free-trade agreements with, but also would open new markets for U.S. producers in other areas in the region, Boustany said.

“I look forward to continuing to work with our congressional colleagues and the administration to further discussions on promoting the single largest engine of economic growth for America: trade,” Boustany said.

From the farmers and ranchers across the state, for petrochemical manufacturers along the Calcasieu River in Boustany’s district, and others along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, these are positive developments at a time when good economic news is needed.