When people speak about “free trade”, it inevitably generates some fervour of belief -- often a fundamental belief – unmatched by any other topic except, perhaps, motherhood! Yet, so often when people are quizzed about their free trade beliefs, they initially respond with a single perspective: increasing exports. Sometimes, it’s only when challenged that they acknowledge the equal importance of imports. But, of course it is – and must be – both, based on the relative comparative advantages of producers in different countries, the effectiveness and efficiency with which they can produce and deliver some good or service through markets to consumers seeking these.
In the modern world, it makes little sense to promote free trade through negotiations on a country-by-country basis, arguing for the removal of barriers and market access on a line-by-line basis. Who has the time and patience? Even doing so on the basis of structured or ‘ad hoc’ regions is inefficient, and risks excluding important potential trading partners, or worse, actively discriminating against them.
There are always deeper and more complex arguments, but the above states simply why WITSA believes the best opportunity for global economic growth is through multilateral trade liberalisation; move all countries, markets, products and services forward together, so that everyone can gain access to technologies and services at world prices.
By doing this – by ensuring everyone gains access – we ensure that we deliver the promise of the Digital Age. (link: WITSA Trade Policy Paper)