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Making the Case for a Policy of Unilateral Free Trade

Here’s Dan Griswold’s and my hot-off-the-press paper, “A Fresh Start for US Trade Policy: Unilateral Trade Liberalization through a Tariff Reform Commission.

It’s a darn good paper. I can offer this assessment truthfully yet without immodesty because the great bulk of the paper was written by Dan.

Here’s the paper’s abstract:

The US tariff code stands as a barrier to reviving the US economy as it begins to recover from the coronavirus shutdown. Mounting evidence shows that statutory tariffs and the tariffs imposed by the Trump administration since 2018 are compounding the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 virus and are complicating the efforts of consumers and healthcare providers to access medical supplies. Executive action can mitigate some of the harm, but the US Constitution and the scope of the problem require congressional action. Such action should be taken unilaterally by the US government in its own national interest regardless of what actions other nations pursue. This paper recommends the establishment of a Tariff Reform Commission to enable Congress to overcome special-interest opposition to trade liberalization. The commission would be patterned after the successful Base Realignment and Closure process and Miscellaneous Tariff Bill process. It would follow the proven path taken by other nations that have unilaterally liberalized their trade policies.


A sole-authored paper by me on the analytics of unilateral free is forthcoming from Mercatus (likely in a month or so).


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