from Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies

Free Trade Today

Foreign policy analyses written by CFR fellows and published by the trade presses, academic presses, or the Council on Foreign Relations Press.

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Free trade—indeed, economic globalization generally—is under siege. The conventional arguments for protectionism have been discredited but not banished. And free trade faces strong new challenges from a variety of groups, including environmentalists and human-rights activists as well as traditional lobbyists who wrap their agendas in the language of justice and rights. These groups, claiming a general interest and denouncing free trade as a special interest of corporations and other capitalist forces, have organized large and vocal protests in Seattle, Prague, and elsewhere.

Free Trade Today is based on his acclaimed Stockholm lectures and picks up where Bhagwati's influential Protectionism left off. In it, Bhagwati—a leading economist, a professor of economics at Columbia University, and a Council fellow—applies critical insights from revolutionary developments in commercial policy theory—many of his own—to show how the pursuit of social and environmental agendas can be creatively reconciled with the pursuit of free trade. Indeed, he argues that free trade, by raising living standards, can serve these agendas far better than can trade sanctions and restrictions.

After settling the score in favor of free trade, Bhagwati considers alternative ways in which it can be pursued. Chiefly, he argues in support of multilateralism and advances a withering critique of recent bilateral free trade agreements as preferential arrangements that introduce growing chaos into the world trading system. He also makes a strong case for "going it alone" on the road to trade liberalization and endorses the reemergence of unilateral liberalization at points around the globe. Forceful and clearly written for the public by one of the foremost economic thinkers of our day, this volume is essential reading for anyone interested in economic policy or in the world economy.

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Reviews and Endorsements

The lectures are a delight to read; and Bhagwatis irrepressible personality bubbles through on every page.... A ride that is worth the ticket.

Financial Times

A presentation by a future Nobel Laureate.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

One of the best things about the book is that it confounds stereotypes. Mr. Bhagwati, it emerges clearly, is a liberal in both the old and the new senses of the word: he is for free trade, but he is for ambitious social policies too.

The Economist entertaining and scholarly and, of course, authoritative. . . . Bhagwati is magisterial, dealing succinctly with general theory and its application to current debates.

L. Alan Winters, International Finance

Jagdish Bhagwati is easily the most creative international trade theorist of his generation, whose work has fundamentally changed the way we now think about free trade and protection. He is also our leader in the fight for freer trade: his witty, graceful, and incisive op-eds and reviews in the leading magazines and newspapers worldwide and his public debates deliver the coup de grace to the myriad critics of free trade. Free Trade Today, which brings under one rubric the deep insights from modern theory—much of it [Bhagwati's] own work—to refute these critics, is a tour de force.

Arvind Panagariya, Professor of Economics and Codirector, Center for International Economics, University of Maryland

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