Furthering Free Trade

By Feulner, Ed | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, August 8, 2006 | Go to article overview

Furthering Free Trade


Feulner, Ed, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


The open microphone at the recent G-8 summit produced two newsworthy revelations. The first is that President Bush sometimes uses colorful language when discussing world hot spots.

The second, far more important, news arising from "Open Mic Nite" came as the president and British Prime Minister Tony Blair discussed the Doha Round -- the multinational talks designed to expand free trade:

Bush: "I just want some movement."

Blair: "It may be that it's impossible."

Indeed, Doha, aimed at creating a global free-trade agreement, seems to have broken down. The talks basically pitted three groups - - the European Union, the United States and a gaggle of developing countries -- against each other. So far, none is willing to bend enough to make a deal.

If the Doha negotiations ultimately prove fruitless, America should keep fighting for free trade every way it can.

During the last 50-plus years, American leadership has helped greatly reduce international trade barriers. We've trimmed subsidies and encouraged the flow of imports and exports, generating economic growth both in developed countries and in developing countries (such as China) that embrace trade liberalization.

Free trade also has helped Americans.

Trade (as a percentage of our economy) has climbed from single digits in the 1930s to nearly one-quarter of U.S. GDP in 2003. During this period, real per capita GDP in the U.S. (in constant 2000 dollars) has climbed from $5,061 in 1933 to $35,726 in 2003.

The demise of Doha in the face of European protectionism doesn't mean we've reached the end of the line. The success or failure of World Trade Organization talks shouldn't be the only path the U.S. pursues. The Oman-U.S. free trade agreement that passed the House by 22 votes in July is a perfect example of working a parallel line. Washington must think even more creatively about expanding economic freedom and lay tracks to a new destination: a Global Free Trade Alliance.

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