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Exports are Costs; Imports are Benefits

Today’s edition of the Chicago Tribune published this letter of mine:

You’re correct that free trade likely would create
more opportunities for workers in Illinois to produce goods for export
("How free trade boosts Illinois," Editorial, Aug. 25). Never forget,
though, that the ultimate benefit of trade lies not in what people must
sacrifice-not in the creation of opportunities to produce output for
others-but in the greater quantity, quality and variety of goods and
services that free trade makes possible for ordinary people to consume.
Free trade’s bountiful harvest is not its exports; it is its imports.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Chairman, Department of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, Va.