Free Trade, Free Labor, Free Growth

While the removal of trade and migration barriers would carry one-time costs, economic analysis shows that it would be an exceptionally wise investment for rich and poor countries alike. The real hurdle is getting this message across to politicians an voters.

ADELAIDE – Protectionist sentiment and fear of globalization are on the rise. In the United States, presidential candidates appeal to anxious voters by blaming the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for the erosion of the country’s manufacturing base. Liberal trade initiatives have run into trouble in Congress, while new trade barriers have been mooted for products flooding in from China.

Things are no better in Europe. France has dealt the Doha round of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations a blow by rejecting the outline deal on agriculture. European Commission President José Manuel Barroso believes that protectionist pressures are increasing. 

When the Doha trade round was launched shortly after September 11, 2001, there was plenty of international goodwill. But disenchantment with globalization – and, in some regions, fear of immigration– has since set in. A recent Financial Times/Harris poll in the US, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Spain found people nearly three times more likely to say that globalization is negative than positive.

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