Free Trade is Necessary For A Strong Economy

By Caomhin

Pushed into the background during this year’s presidential campaign (and quite curiously so) is the issue of free trade and the pursuit of such agreements.  Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) are a means by which two sovereign nations negotiate terms in which their exports are free from tariffs.  The results of such achievements are an increase in utility among consumers of both nations, who have now have access to new products and services at a lower cost to them.

Among several other benefits of free trade agreements are the availability of new investments by members of both nations, improved relations and cultural understandings that result from an exchange of goods, services, ideas, etc., both amongst the people and governments, as well as higher levels of competition, the end result of which, leads to the improved quality of goods and services.  FTAs benefit citizens at a variety of levels.

While we remain in tough economic times, the pursuit of FTAs must not be forgotten, rather, they must be aggressively pursued for the benefits that they reap.  History has taught us the dangers and naivety of protectionist and isolationist stances, which have led to economic, political, and military disasters.

The defense of our nation’s sovereignty is of the utmost importance, to be sure.  However, FTAs, when negotiated directly with other nations, do not undermine our sovereignty or do harm to our nation; instead, they greatly benefit our nations.  Disputes are handled through additional negotiations between trading partners or through the World Trade Organization.  While many seem to have negative connotations associated with the WTO, this is a fallacy.  Free Trade benefits the members of all nations involved, regardless of the disinformation being provided by special interest groups.

We can work through international organizations and direct negotiations with other countries in ways that do not deplete our national independence.  This is done through solid legislation and negotiations.  The ability to back out of an agreement if the deal is fundamentally flawed or unfair is of course retained and thereby maintains sovereignty.  We must not enter into lopsided deals that put us into a competitive disadvantage, but rather seek to have tariff free agreements on both imports and exports.

I strongly urge the legislature to complete the implementation of the trade agreements with Peru and Oman and to pass the FTAs with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea.  One of the panaceas we seek to the ailing economy is to open up new opportunities and new markets that will benefit both consumers and producers, allow for new flows of investments, and to have a positive impact for the citizens our nation.  Following through on these agreements is a great step towards fixing that which ails us.

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