December 1, 2006
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM THE REACTIONARY PARTY?:
'Fair Trade' Foolishness (Robert J. Samuelson, November 30, 2006, Washington Post)
We may be about to shoot ourselves in the foot -- or maybe the chest -- on trade. In the name of "fair trade," we may punish our own exporters. In 2005 worldwide exports exceeded $10 trillion. Since 1980 they've more than tripled while the overall global economy doubled. Like it or not, massive international flows of goods and services (aka "globalization") underpin all modern economies. Supply chains have dispersed. We can accept this reality and try to benefit from it. Or we can rail against it. We seem to be edging toward railing.
Just last week Democratic congressional leaders signaled that they may oppose new trade agreements with Colombia and Peru. Who, if anyone, would benefit is unclear. As The Post reported, the agreements' darkened prospects have already led to layoffs in Colombia. In the United States, manufacturers believe the agreements would expand their exports. Peru's tariffs average about 10 percent, Colombia's about 11 percent, says Frank Vargo of the National Association of Manufacturers. Most of these would go to zero under the agreements.
We are dealing with something new here. It transcends traditional protectionism, which tries to shield specific industries and workers from imports. It's trade obstructionism: a reflexive reaction against almost any trade agreement.
Bill Clinton, like Grover Cleveland, will look even better in retrospect. Posted by Orrin Judd at December 1, 2006 11:20 AM