Free Trade

Free trade sounds like freedom. Freedom is a positive word – everybody likes to live in freedom; everybody wants to be free. Therefore everybody who supports freedom should support free trade. Isn’t this what many politicians try to make you believe? But is this really true or simply a deduction that is way too short?

Supporters of the idea of a global free trade somehow believe that if every country would allow free trade with other countries in the end it would benefit everyone. As if there would be a (super) natural law – like the law of gravity – that would finally bring all differences between import and export to a balance. Unfortunately reality is far away from such an idea. And looking into the situation of many countries there is no way that one could see how they could ever come into a balanced import / export situation when hardly anything is produced inside the country, but almost everything is imported from outside. These countries will never prosper when a big part of their money is constantly flowing out of the country for importing goods. The logical step to reduce such a dependency on imports, and therefore on foreign countries, would be to encourage local production through laws that protect this production from competing products produced under totally different circumstances abroad. This would be the opposite of free trade.

I do believe in a market system with the need of competition instead of a planned economy. But such a competition is only fair and just based on similar living conditions. For example if a domestic factory worker is only allowed to work 40 hours a week but a foreign factory worker can work 80 hours or more in a week, you don’t have similar living conditions any more. So if a domestic factory would let its workers work 80 hours politicians, police, unions, and judges would immediately act against it. But when importing the very same product from a country abroad where workers work 80 hours a week and products can be produced much cheaper, it doesn’t matter anymore and no one complains. How can this be fair and just? A more just solution would be to either loosen the domestic laws or otherwise have a tax added to the imported goods so that there is no interest anymore for importing goods produced under totally different living circumstances. But nowadays it seems to be sufficient that you label unfair import/export conditions “free trade” which gives it a nice spin and everything seems to be all right.