– Current Blog Posts: Free Trade

This note explores the future of free trade and protectionism. We begin by defining free trade and discussing why it is desirable. We next turn to protectionism, explaining its roots and examining to what extent it is harmful. The remainder of the note looks into the evidence of change, focusing mostly on enforcement of past trade agreements, the progress of free trade agreements, and the progress of the Doha “Development” Round of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations. The conclusion is that the general trend is for free trade to continue to increase but the precise timing and geographical locations of the changes will be as difficult to predict as ever. There will likely be almost as many steps backward (towards protectionism) as forwards. The implication is that business planners will have to cast wider and more complex information nets. They will have to deal with the uncertainty of difficult-to-predict swings between freer and less free trade.