London — 2 April 2009. The Freedom to Trade Coalition – comprising over 60 civil society organisations from 44 countries, including Canada’s Frontier Centre for Public Policy, launched an open letter calling on all governments to eliminate trade barriers.
Signatories include Nobel Prize winning economist Vernon Smith; former US Secretary of State George Schultz; former Prime Minister of Estonia Mart Laar MEP; former Finance Ministers of New Zealand (Ruth Richardson), Chile (Rolf Luders), Ukraine (Viktor Pynzenyk), and Poland (Leszek Balcerovicz,) ; former Kremlin chief economist Andrei Illarionov; Indian businessman and author Gucharan Das; noted Chinese economists Xia Yeliang (Peking) and Mao Shoulong (Renmin); Alexander Graf Lamsdorff MEP; and many other eminent economists, philosophers and other academics. In total, over 2000 people have so far signed the letter, including over 1000 academics. In Canada, Peter Holle signed on behalf of the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.
Warning of the dangers of resurgent protectionism, the letter observes:
“Protectionism creates poverty, not prosperity. Protectionism doesn’t even “protect” domestic jobs or industries; it destroys them, by harming export industries and industries that rely on imports to make their goods. Raising the local prices of steel by “protecting” local steel companies just raises the cost of producing cars and the many other goods made with steel. Protectionism is a fool’s game.”
Moreover, mindful of the tragic consequences of the protectionism of the 1920s and 30s, which contributed to the Great Depression and to the poverty and nationalism that led to the Second World War, the letter observes that “Protectionism destroys peace.” By contrast:
“Trade promotes peace … by uniting different peoples in a common culture of commerce – a daily process of learning others’ languages, social norms, laws, expectations, wants, and talents … [and] by encouraging people to build bonds of mutually beneficial cooperation. Just as trade unites the economic interests of Paris and Lyon, of Boston and Seattle, of Calcutta and Mumbai, trade also unites the economic interests of Paris and Portland, of Boston and Berlin, of Calcutta and Copenhagen – of the peoples of all nations who trade with each other.”
The open letter is available at a new website – www.freedomtotrade.org – which will feature news stories, exclusive webcasts, statements by signatories of the open letter, and many other items.
In addition, the Freedom to Trade Coalition has committed itself to monitoring the actions of governments around the world – and will challenge attempts to institute protectionist policies.
In Canada, contact the Frontier Centre (www.fcpp.org):
President, Frontier Centre for Public Policy
Research Director, Frontier Centre for Public Policy