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Arguing for Free Trade

- Abstract

There are two scenarios for world trade in the 21st century, an optimistic and a pessimistic one. The optimistic scenario is the one which, almost unthinkingly, most of us subscribe to.

It goes as follows. World trade will continue to expand, faster or more slowly according to which phase of the cycle we are in. Notwithstanding such diversions as the recent skirmish between the United States and Japan, trade barriers will continue to come down as they have done for the past half-century. The world will move toward a tripartite trading system. The North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) will eventually expand to take in all of Latin America. The European Union (EU) will embrace all of Eastern Europe, including Russia. The East Asian trading area will be represented by Japan, China, Southeast Asia, and finally India. Then, progressively, these three big trading groups, having largely abolished internal tariffs among themselves, will negotiate external tariff reductions as well, and we will gradually move toward a unified world-trading system some time in the second half of the 21st century.

About the Author

Paul Johnson is the author of Modern Times, A History of Christianity, and A History of the Jews, among many other books.