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Free Trade, Safe Trade

Author: Jagdish N. Bhagwati
July 18, 2011
The Times of India


One may be forgiven if, on reading the ceaseless G20 pronouncements in favour of freer trade, one infers that there is an almost universal agreement that trade matters, that freer trade is a policy to be pursued for public good.

Yet, the case needs to be made as the hostility to freeing trade, to further integration on the trade front into the world economy, is not negligible. It includes not merely the lobbyists for import-competing activities, but also citizens and groups swayed by the contrary assertions of a handful of professional economists, chief among them my former Columbia colleague Dani Rodrik and my current Columbia colleague Joe Stiglitz (both icons to the leftwing populists in India).

Rather than citing the scientific evidence that is now available in spades, anecdotes reflecting my experience with the deleterious consequences of closed or sheltered markets might be more useful.

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