Les vertus oubliées du libre-échange

LONDRES – “Le laissez-faire,” a récemment déclaré le président français Nicolas Sarkozy, “c’est fini.” Peut-être, mais devrions-nous vraiment nous réjouir ? Si le laissez-faire a vécu, avec quoi le remplacer pour servir de fondations à une société ouverte et mondialisée ?

Aujourd’hui plus que jamais, il vaut la peine de se souvenir que le dernier grand krach financier a non seulement inspiré le New Deal aux États-Unis, mais a également plongé le monde dans un nouvel âge sombre de nationalisme économique et d’impérialisme. Le libre-échange est loin d’être parfait, mais les alternatives sont bien pires. Le protectionnisme nuit à la prospérité, à la démocratie et à la paix.

Une nouvelle vague de protectionnisme est un danger réel. Barack Obama, faisant appel au sentiment croissant de protectionnisme chez les Américains, a menacé pendant sa campagne présidentielle de réécrire l’Accord de libre-échange nord-américain de manière unilatérale. En juillet, le cycle de Doha de l’Organisation mondiale du commerce s’est décomposé, en partie parce que les États-Unis ont refusé de baisser le montant de leurs subventions agricoles.

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