Posted: Sep 23, 2010 8:58 pm
by Hugin
Among economists, there is a strong consensus (also check the actual table) in favor of free trade. Paul Krugman has compared opposition to free trade and globalization with opposition to evolution by natural selection. He has also stated that: "If economists ruled the world, there would be no need for a World Trade Organization. The economist's case for free trade is essentially a unilateral case - that is, it says that a country serves its own interests by pursuing free trade regardless of what other countries may do. Or as Frederic Bastiat put it, it makes no more sense to be protectionist because other countries have tariffs than it would to block up our harbors because other countries have rocky coasts. So if our theories really held sway, there would be no need for trade treaties: global free trade would emerge spontaneously from the unrestricted pursuit of national interest.".

I hope this illustrates that among economists, free trade is not a left/right issue. Paul Krugman, who is to the left of the average economist, supports free trade. For information on how left-wing and right-wing economists differ, look here.

It's not for bad reason that economists support free trade, as there is a field of research behind it, ongoing. I think this contains a reasonably good explanation to why free trade is good, even if some country is absolutely better at doing everything than another. An important point is that specialization or division of labor, decried by Noam Chomsky, is good for individuals and communities.

My questions to those opposing free trade are:

1. What do you see as wrong in the economic theory about free trade?
2. Why don't you think economists have discovered those errors that you have?