Free trade in Americas interest



“No nation was ever ruined by trade,” stated Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century. Franklin\'s maxim is just as true today as it was in the 18th century in that trade is enriching nearly all nations today. In the past ten years free trade has done more to alleviate poverty than any well-intentioned law, regulation, or social policy in history. Even the United States benefits from opening its markets to free trade.
Two epochal forces are sweeping the world today: the spread of new technology and the spread of free markets. Their combined effect has been to let capital, labor, and production move more freely across borders. This freedom of movement has allowed for a more efficient allocation of resources, which has made for a more productive, wealthy world.
Globalization has brought far away communities across the world closer together. It has brought Internet access to Rwanda, CNN to Azerbaijan, Japanese investors to the U.S. It has also brought unprecedented wealth and economic activity. The world is richer than ever, and increased free global trade is one of the main reasons.
The United States has many sources of power in the pursuit of its goals. The global economy demands economic liberalization, greater openness and transparency, and at the very least, accesses to information technology. International economic policies that leverage the advantages of the American economy and expand free trade are the decisive tools in shaping international politics. They permit us to reach out to states as varied as South Africa and India and to engage our neighbors in the Western Hemisphere in a shared interest in economic prosperity.
The pro free-trade camp in this country has tried to sell free trade generally, and the WTO in particular, on the grounds that free trade in other countries is a good idea. When other countries drop their trade barriers, American companies export more, and consequently create more export-related jobs. All true enough, but what free-traders fail to talk about, and their silence is deafening, is that free trade in the United States is a good idea.
Proponents of free trade have remained silent in the face of anti-trade claims about job losses and a "race to the bottom." They have allowed misplaced fears about globalization to spread by default. Trumpeting the prospect of increased exports by U.S. multinationals simply isn\'t responsive to those fears; indeed, it actually plays to suspicions that the WTO is a front for big corporations that seek to profit at the expense of ordinary Americans.
Many people favor freer trade, freer markets in general - not only in international trade but in all kinds of areas - because individuals are considered to be better in making decisions about what they want, how much they\'re prepared to pay for it, how they\'re going to use their own resources. Individuals are considered to be better at making these kind of decisions than governments, unions, health services or any of the other institutions we have which set prices and distribute resources.
Prices are supposedly the best indicator of the supply of any particular good relative to how much people want of it. If you have a surplus of a good and not many people want it, the price is going to be quite low. If a particular good is in demand, the prices are going to go up. This is a key idea, which lies behind not only trade policy, but also liberalization policies that we\'ve seen in most countries around the world over the last 20 years.
There are two key conditions for this whole concept to work. The first one is that there have to be a lot of buyers and sellers, so that no one individual or company can monopolize the market and influence what is produced and consumed, simply on the basis of their own decisions. The second condition is that everybody has to have information - people have to know what\'s going on in the market.
Specifically in relation to trade, the arguments in favor of liberalizing trade are based on the theory that the fewer restrictions there are what companies can do, the more they will produce and the cheaper it will be. If companies are free to trade in any market, then the companies in any