Free trade spreads wealth

New Zealand with its mere 4.1 million people just signed a free trade agreement with the behemoth China, population of 1.3 billion. New Zealand is not worried about all their citizens of working age becoming sheep herders because they can’t compete in other industries. Watch for their relatively small economy to grow.

What an inspiration New Zealand should be to the developed world in its boldness to promote free trade. It’s a shame the United States of America, the beacon of capitalism and liberty, is back pedaling on its staunch support for it. If America wants to enhance its influence abroad, free trade — not war or tax money handouts to inept foreign governments– is the ticket.

The U.S. should approve the free trade agreement with Columbia as a matter of sound foreign policy. Without this golden opportunity for Columbia to sell its wares duty free to the world’s largest single-country market, there’s the risk of it becoming the next anti-capitalist/America regime in Latin America. In the long-run, free trade will empower many of its impoverished people economically.

America need not fear job losses as a result of the free trade agreements. Much of the job losses will be offset with job gains due to increased U.S exports in other industries. And yes, America will need to retool its workforce into higher skilled labor.

Resistance to free trade within America also comes from those who advocate “fair trade” with its strict environmental and labor preconditions. While on an emotional level I agree with the tenets of “fair trade”, I can’t help but think there’s a catch 22 to the notion of “fair trade.” Let’s face it: potential free trade partners like Columbia don’t have the financial resources to meet the environmental and labor preconditions. Allow for their economies to grow 10-20 years after an initial free trade agreement before demanding higher environmental and labor standards.

Unlike the cartoon depiction below, free trade is not a one way street benefiting only multinational corporations. Everything corporate America wants is not bad. Babylon has its merits too. On the other hand, free trade is like sex in that it’s great but you must be careful with whom you choose as a partner. China has an awful human rights record and foreign policy. Are they a worthy free trade partner?

Misconception of free trade

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