Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Free Trade Petition

Nigel Ashford of the Institute for Humane Studies has sent me the following e-maill about a Free Trade Petition for academics:

>The Atlas Global Initiative for Free Trade, Peace and Prosperity is circulating an international petition in support of free trade available in over 20 languages. The petition will be launched on April 1 at the G20 summit in London. The organizers hope that academics of all disciplines will sign the petition to help avoid an era of harmful economic nationalism. For more details and to sign the petition, see the links below.


The petition reads as follows

>Free Trade Is the Best Policy

>The specter of protectionism is rising. It is always a dangerous and foolish policy, but it is especially dangerous at a time of economic crisis, when it threatens to damage the world economy. Protectionism’s peculiar premise is that national prosperity is increased when government grants monopoly power to domestic producers. As centuries of economic reasoning, historical experience, and empirical studies have repeatedly shown, that premise is dead wrong. Protectionism creates poverty, not prosperity. Protectionism doesn’t even “protect” domestic jobs or industries; it destroys them, by harming export industries and industries that rely on imports to make their goods. Raising the local prices of steel by “protecting” local steel companies just raises the cost of producing cars and the many other goods made with steel. Protectionism is a fool’s game.

>But the fact that protectionism destroys wealth is not its worst consequence. Protectionism destroys peace. That is justification enough for all people of good will, all friends of civilization, to speak out loudly and forcefully against economic nationalism, an ideology of conflict, based on ignorance and carried into practice by protectionism.

>Two hundred and fifty years ago, Montesquieu observed that “Peace is the natural effect of trade. Two nations who differ with each other become reciprocally dependent; for if one has an interest in buying, the other has an interest in selling; and thus their union is founded on their mutual necessities.”

>Trade’s most valuable product is peace. Trade promotes peace, in part, by uniting different peoples in a common culture of commerce – a daily process of learning others’ languages, social norms, laws, expectations, wants, and talents.

>Trade promotes peace by encouraging people to build bonds of mutually beneficial cooperation. Just as trade unites the economic interests of Paris and Lyon, of Boston and Seattle, of Calcutta and Mumbai, trade also unites the economic interests of Paris and Portland, of Boston and Berlin, of Calcutta and Copenhagen – of the peoples of all nations who trade with each other.

>A great deal of rigorous empirical research supports the proposition that trade promotes peace.

>Perhaps the most tragic example of what happens when that insight is ignored is World War II.

You can sign the petition here.


Anonymous said...

I think you mean Nigel Ashford.

Mitchell Langbert said...

Thanks, corrected.

Anonymous said...

I'm just a casual reader of always excellent, excellent blogs, but I'm no expert. By free trade is it meant fair and open and equal access to and from competitive markets; and also fair but not exactly equitable markets. Your blog now has me thinking.