Free Trade, the Environment and Profit

By Seshadri, B. | Contemporary Review, April 1995 | Go to article overview

Free Trade, the Environment and Profit


Seshadri, B., Contemporary Review


Recent electoral results in the southern states of India have swept the ruling Congress (I) Party aside and put power in the hands of regional political parties. This is an unwelcome development to those in the subcontinent with serious environmental concern. In one of the states, the re-named Telugu Desam (land of the Telugus, the old Andhra Pradesh), subsidies to agriculture and other activities are being swiftly revived to reward the voters. The Central Government in New Delhi, whose economic reforms would, it was said, change Indian economy, if not out of recognition, at least to a more progressive future, has cause for alarm. The reforms were top priority before the advent of Hindu fundamentalism in mid-1992 and tilted to a growth rate of five to six per cent in the years to the turn of the century. Deregulation was to open India to the world, and lead to more foreign trade and investment. The 1991 balance of payment crisis with the threat of international default had spurred the Centre to action. Then came the GATT accord of December 1993. Political and social upheavals, many of which are obstacles to progress, escalated. They are taking place on a scale so immense that they are often beyond the comprehension of outsiders and portend grave global environmental consequences.

Let me go back, briefly, to the GATT accord. The euphoria following it were well reported. I give a few examples. The Times wrote, 'The agreement ... offers the road to a sharp rise in international trade'. John Major hailed it as a 'superb' deal for Britain and said it 'provided a platform for recovery, growth and jobs'. President Clinton claimed it would create 'hundreds of thousands of good-paying American jobs' and add billions of dollars to the American economy. France saw it as a victory after its lone opposition to the US on agriculture. Reaction in the less developed countries, more generally known as the 'Third World', was, however, less enthusiastic. In India, to the dismay of the Centre and entrepreneurs, the Hindu nationalists orchestrated mass opposition to embarrass the Delhi government.

In the wider world, debates among economists and environmentalists on the effects of free trade on the global environment sharpened. Some feared that many economists ignored the hidden costs of free trade on the environment and world communities. Others believed these fears were unjustified because any adverse effects from free trade could be mitigated by imaginative action. I am not suggesting that the debates are simply for or against free trade, because, in fairness, they are more about the regulatory devices that are necessary to achieve the desired results. Free trade is traditionally based in international specialisation according to what has been called 'comparative advantage'. It has long been presumed by economists, before environmentalists first appeared on the scene, that it is good for everyone if countries specialised in products for which they have a comparative advantage and traded freely for other products. Those uneasy with free trade say, with much conviction, that this presumption is unsound. They believe that what should receive preference is domestic production for domestic markets.

Free trade seeks to maximise production and profit, and this is fine so long as it is not at the cost of a country's social or environmental good. Free traders claim it makes people richer, which will then give them the means to remedy social or environmental ills. The other view is that untrammelled growth increases adverse environmental changes that more than offset benefits from increased production. India is replete with examples of this. For example, the synthetic fibres industry, which has a huge overseas market, has for years polluted the environment wherever it has established itself and destroyed the livelihoods of many thousands of people who had traditionally been dependent on local natural resources. No attempt was ever made in this industry to include environmental costs into manufacturing costs. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Free Trade, the Environment and Profit
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.