Skip to comments.The End of Free Trade?
Posted on 07/31/2008 4:30:10 AM PDT by shrinkermd
The demise of the Doha trade round is another blow to the struggling world economy, and there's plenty of blame to go around. But the crucial question going forward is whether this is merely a temporary setback, or if it marks the end of the post-World War II free-trade era that has done so much to spread prosperity.
We tend by nature and history toward optimism, but no one should sugar-coat Doha's collapse. For the first time since the multilateral trading rounds began after World War II, a trade expansion effort has ended in failure.
In 1990, trade represented about 40% of world GDP, according to the World Bank. By 2004, trade exceeded 55% of world GDP, and the global economy had expanded by 50%. The five fastest-growing countries from 1990 to 2004 were Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Ireland and Vietnam, and all of them had annual double-digit increases in trade. Meanwhile, the countries that traded the least -- Iran, many African countries -- have stagnated.
So pervasive have the blessings of trade become that they are taken for granted. Americans hear a lot about textile plant closings in North Carolina, but they barely notice their expanded purchasing power thanks to Wal-Mart's vast global supply network. Thirty years ago something as simple as cotton shirts and trousers were expensive; now they're cheap. Fresh fruit was once rare in January; now it's ubiquitous.
Manufacturing exports supported nearly six million U.S. jobs in 2006, a figure that has surely grown given the recent boom in U.S. sales abroad. Farm exports supported some 806,000 American jobs in 2005, a figure that has also surely grown with the booming world demand for U.S. corn, soybeans, wheat, meat and specialty crops.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
“has done so much to spread prosperity.”
It’s made a bunch of the WRONG people/countries wealthy also. (mostly enemies of the US)
thirty years ago cotton shirts and trousers were not THAT expensive. Free trade as been a very mixed blessing at best. Yes, there have been some benefits. There have also been some tremendous social and economic dislocations. The WSJ and its ilk would be more credible on free trade if they were at least completely honest about its impact.
Trade with China costs 2.3 million American jobs.
I remember driving through the South on vacation and stopping at all the textile outlets to buy my school wardrobe....for very little money. The stuff was well made and cheap, made in textile factories in the US.
Quoting a study from the union created and run EPI?
Most everything has changed within the past 30 years.
Because I know politicians are stupid, I have little hope.
Agreed. It is not reassuring that on a conservative website (FR) we seem to have many folks who don’t believe in the benefits of freely trading individuals.
‘Free Trade’ is a misnomer and/or myth. There is always regulation on both sides. Ask nearly any US manufacturer that’s tried to open an export market into China.