Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Why Liberalizing World Trade Is An Oxymoron

Liberalizing world trade has always struck me as being an oxymoron. This is because what is good globally – for large nations and small, for industrialized nations and emerging third-world (*) nations – is inevitably trumped by capitalist greed, with nationalist greed a close second.

The Economist would never say as much, of course, but my point of view is lurking between the lines in a sobering article on how far we are from any semblance of a truly liberalized world trade.

Meanwhile, Amitai Etzioni, an intellectual without portfolio, argues at TPM Cafe that the goal should not be liberalizing trade, but rather free trade:
What we need is fair trade, in which the competition takes place on a level playing field. A tariff should be imposed on imports from nations that do not provide their workers with basic protection and benefits and do not treat the environment with a basic measure of responsibility. The moneys thus generated should be divided between helping the employees of these nations, and those who loose their jobs in the developed nations. Let’s have fair trade, not unprotected trade which is what free trade really is.

(*) So what the heck is the third world? The term, which came into vogue in the 1960s as a way of helping differentiate between the West and Soviet bloc, referred to nations that need foreign aid to meet their most basic needs. The industrialized West was referred to as the first world and former Soviet Union and its satellites as the second world.

No comments: