Obama Does Doha

The financial news world is buzzing today that the Doha trade talks seem to have been revived at the G8 meeting in L'Aquila. Everyone agreed to have a "comprehensive" trade deal in place by the end of 2010. That's great news for global commerce, but it won't go over well with everyone. It also shows that President Obama might be more of a free trader than some people expected.

The Financial Times reports:

Gordon Brown, Britain's prime minister, said he believed the big sticking point between Washington and New Delhi on how to resolve a surge of imports into India was now closer to resolution.

Meanwhile, the US is demanding better access to agricultural markets, including India, in exchange for cutting farm subsidies.

U.S. farmers won't be amused, but I can almost hear free market economists in Chicago rejoicing.

Talks are expected to heat up at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh this September. At that time, the Financial Times predicts that the President might turn his back on his fellow Democrats who often oppose some free trade measures:

The approval of the L'Aquila agreement by Barack Obama, US president, may be seen as a signal of intent that he intends to give the Doha process a renewed push in the face of Congressional opposition.

The L'Aquila agreement paves the way for a reassessment of progress at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, to be chaired by Mr Obama, who will come under international pressure if the US is seen to be intransigent.

Obama must find a way to balance his allegiance to his fellow Congressional Democrats while showing solidarity with his global counterparts. That might not be easy, but it will be fun to watch.