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A Plan to End Secret Trade Deals

Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:

Ruth Marcus is right and Elizabeth Warren is wrong: the secrecy of the negotiations leading to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement is a poor excuse to oppose that agreement (“A bogus argument against the trade deal,” May 19).

Yet if Sen. Warren and her fellow Progressives really do worry that secret trade negotiations spawn corporate privileges and cronyism that deny ordinary Americans a say in their own economic affairs, they should call for a policy of unilateral free trade.  Uncle Sam need negotiate with no foreign government or governments in order to eliminate the many tariffs and other restrictions it now imposes on Americans’ commerce with foreigners.  Our government can enact this policy on its own and in bright sunshine.

The unilateral elimination of these trade restrictions is by far the best way to achieve many of the worthy goals that Progressives claim to champion.  A policy of unilateral free trade will instantly rid the U.S. economy of a principal species of corporate privilege and source of bloated profits – namely, protection from having to compete as vigorously as otherwise for customers.  It also will give to each and every American the freedom to choose, openly and diversely, how to spend his or her money without any fear of compulsion exercised furtively on behalf of politically powerful corporations.  The economic voice of American consumers will be amplified throughout the economy while that of corporations made far more quiet in the backrooms of Congress.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030


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