SPENCER BROWN

How Did Trade Agreements Help The Countries Involved

For many countries, unilateral reforms are the only effective way to reduce barriers to internal trade. However, multilateral and bilateral approaches – removing trade barriers in coordination with other countries – have two advantages over unilateral approaches. First, the economic benefits of international trade will be strengthened and strengthened if many countries or regions agree to remove trade barriers. By expanding markets, concerted trade liberalization enhances competition and specialization between countries, increasing efficiency and consumer incomes. Regional trade agreements are very difficult to conclude and claim when countries are more diverse. In the first two decades of the agreement, regional trade increased from about $290 billion in 1993 to more than $1 trillion in 2016. Critics are divided on the net impact on the U.S. economy, but some estimates put the net loss of domestic jobs at $15,000 a year as a result of the agreement. A definite prognosis is that international trade agreements will continue to be controversial. For many reasons, preferential access regimes for poor countries have proven to be ineffective in improving market access for these countries.

Such regulations often exclude particularly protected products, which are of greatest interest to exporters in the poorest countries, or offer less generous benefits. They are often complex, opaque and subject to various exceptions and conditions (including non-economic conditions) that limit or terminate benefits as soon as significant market access is reached. While free trade is generally beneficial, removing a trade barrier to a given asset harms shareholders and workers in the domestic industry that produces that good. Some groups that are aggrieved by foreign competition have sufficient political power to protect themselves from imports. As a result, despite their considerable economic costs, trade barriers continue to exist. For example, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission, the U.S. benefit from lifting trade restrictions on textiles and clothing would have been nearly $12 billion in 2002. This is a net economic benefit after deducting losses suffered by businesses and workers in the domestic industry. Nevertheless, local textile producers were able to convince Congress to maintain strict import restrictions. Founded in 1973, the Caribbean Economic Community (Caricom) has 14 Caribbean countries.

Caricom has also signed free trade agreements with Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela. In August 1995, 25 countries in the Caribbean Basin founded the Association of Caribbean States (CSC) to create a free trade area. If the President of the United States is able to negotiate with other fast-track countries, a strong signal will be sent that the United States is committed to promoting global economic stability through trade. It is also a statement on how we will behave as a nation in the new post-Cold War era.

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REP   ACTING: VLA     VO: SUE TERRY VOICES    LIT: RICHARD SCRIVENER

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