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A man scavenges for pieces of plastic at a dump in the Dandora slum of Nairobi A man scavenges for pieces of plastic at a dump in the Dandora slum of Nairobi, Kenya, Dec. 5, 2018 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

The U.S. Shouldn’t Use Trade Talks to Get Kenya to Scrap Its Plastics Ban

Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020

Though changes in trade policy create winners and losers within a given country, the net effect of lowering import tariffs is generally positive for the country’s economy as a whole. Now, however, tariffs are already low, so the trade agenda involves mostly addressing regulatory and other “technical” barriers to trade generated by countries’ domestic policies, with a core principle of international trade rules being to ensure that these domestic policies do not discriminate against imports.

But using legally binding trade agreements to influence the substance of policies that apply to both imports and domestic products alike can create friction between trade facilitation goals and broader public interests. Concerns that trade goals could inappropriately interfere with other public priorities is especially salient when larger, more powerful countries negotiate with weaker trading partners. ...

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