The global trade agreement, which was to have been agreed four years ago at Dhoa, is still without a first draft.
GATT and the WTO provide opportunities for endless wrangling over the minutia of trade. This ends up with the big countries telling the small ones how they must behave. Taking unilateral action does not require us to dictate to other countries what they should do.
Protectionists are adept at dressing up their policies in new clothes. The "European Free Trade" area was just one example of this ability to restyle the old immorality as the new morality. It is not difficult to see the flaws in an "environmental" case once you have recognised it to be dressed up protectionism. Moreover, where trade is in conflict with the environment, as sometimes inevitably happens, the remedy can often be found in the local courts rather than by erecting barriers to trade. This subject of Free Trade v. the environment is likely to come before the World Trade Organisation and its Appellate Body with increasing frequency.
HUMAN RIGHTS: Free Trade has long been recognised as a fundamental human right (see the reference in Magna Carta to goods being allowed to pass "without let or hindrance"). We argue that without Free Trade all other freedoms are diminished. One could even argue that the demise of the Soviet-style "command economy" model owed more to the recognition by the masses of the overwhelming daily advantages conferred by Free Trade (or at least by a movement towards a free economy) than it did to any change in their underlying philosophy.
To appreciate the Free Trade case in full requires a leap of the imagination.
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David D Wedgwood,
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"We desire to be respectable as well as respected." Adam Smith making the point that there is a moral dimension to decision making even in economics.