Trade and Democratic Values
Minnesota Journal of Global Trade, Vol. 1, No.1, p. 9, 1992
27 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2012
Date Written: September 30, 1991
This essay concerns the fundamental principles that will guide congressional deliberations regarding trade policy in the coming months and years. There is no question but that Congress must respond effectively to progressive social demands, such as demands that the environment not be sacrificed to an unbridled adherence to the concept of free trade. At the same time, Congress must not lose sight of certain fundamental principles that have guided U.S. trade policy since the Second World War. The underlying commitment of the United States to liberal trade policy is not based on a simplistic commitment to comparative advantage as an end in itself, but is deeply rooted in a commitment to democratic values.
Although a persuasive textbook case might be made for managed trade, central government control over trade has consistently resulted in dramatic economic and social failure, or economic success coupled with social conditions that would be intolerable in the United States.
The liberal trading system must become more responsive to the interests of the environment and human well-being. It is capable of being adapted to meet the demands of the twenty-first century. This essay offers a few modest suggestions as to how this goal might be accomplished. The central message of this essay, however, is that adherence to the underlying principles of the liberal trading system and the accomplishment of progressive social goals are not mutually exclusive. It is imperative that progressive social goals not be confused with the interests of industries that have failed to respond to international competition.
Keywords: trade, democratic values, industrial policy, environment
JEL Classification: F02, F11, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation