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So where does Obama really stand on trade?

Business Times - 06 Feb 2009


So where does Obama really stand on trade?

The US president, who made populist noises on the campaign trail, is facing a new reality

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

WHEN candidate Barack Obama seemed to be advancing protectionist-sounding policy proposals in the midst of the election campaign, suggesting that if elected he would renegotiate with Mexico and Canada the terms of North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), some of his advisers pleaded with free traders at home and abroad to take it easy, please.

Mr Obama was making these populist noises during the Democratic primaries as a way of ingratiating himself with powerful anti-globalisation constituencies in his party, they explained, adding with a wink that Mr Obama was a centrist and internationalist pro-free trade Democrat in the tradition of former president Bill Clinton.

But Mr Obama reiterated the sceptical views on liberalising global trade during the general elections. 'I did not ju…