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Getting free trade right

November 21, 2016

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[Peter Morici| November 20, 2016 |Washington Times]

Globalization is inevitable and nothing about the presidential campaign changed that.

Ever since merchants first moved among human settlements, people have exchanged goods, blended cultures and specialized to create wealth, but trade also creates winners and losers. Donald Trump has seized on an enduring truth: whether America or any nation wins or loses depends on how well it manages the process.

Negotiating NAFTA and the bilateral agreement permitting China to join the World Trade Organization, Ottawa, Mexico City and Beijing were not looking out for American businesses and workers — that was Washington’s job and it didn’t do it very well.

Thanks to a $380 billion annual trade deficit with Mexico and China, communities in Pennsylvania, the Midwest and elsewhere are beset by shuttered factories and decay. Economic growth has slowed to less than 2 percent, and our national and state governments lack resources to adequately maintain the military, schools and infrastructure.

However, history teaches nations that turn away from global commerce, as did imperial China, risk stagnation and decay.

In Europe, Brexit is not a xenophobic impulse but a sensible reaction to the failure of European Union institutions to deliver a vibrant continental economy and the military resources and political consensus to secure EU borders and defend against terrorism.


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