What Canada’s Trudeau Must Understand – The Only Fair Trade Is Free Trade – Forbes

There’s much to like in Justin Trudeau’s defence of trade and trade deals before the European Parliament following the Ceta vote. But there’s an extremely important point that he’s still not quite getting. And it’s one that, as and when people do get it, entirely solves our trade problems once and for all. That point being the recognition that the only form of fair trade is free trade.

So, yes, this is nice:

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday that the whole world benefited from a strong European Union and that the bloc and his country needed to lead the international economy in challenging times.

Hopefully that’s just being polite to your hosts, not an expression of anything that is actually believed:

The trade pact between Canada and the European Union approved this week could be one of the world’s last multilateral trade deals unless policy makers share the benefits more widely, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told European lawmakers.

And yes, there’s a danger that more trade deals won’t get done given current political circumstances. However, this is the error:

But Trudeau said the pact does in fact deliver on that.
“Trade that is free and fair means we can make the lives of our citizens more affordable, and create more jobs.”

Actually, there are two mistakes there. The first being that trade isn’t about creating more jobs–quite the contrary, we are trying to destroy them. Trade means that we move production to where it is more efficient. Thus we get what we want with the application of less human labour, not more. This makes us all richer of course. Partly because leisure is something valuable and partly because people go off and make other things instead of what they did before trade arrived. We’re thus richer by having both those new things they make and also what trade provides us with.

It’s the other point there that really irks though. As if there is some contrast, a tension, between having trade that is fair and or free. When the two are the same thing.

Don’t forget, trade is not between countries or geographic areas. Sure, my pineapple might come from Central America but it’s still me, the individual, buying the pineapple from some farmer in Costa Rica or wherever. Doesn’t matter how many supermarkets and wholesalers and shippers are in between, it’s still me buying from him. And that trade is voluntary too. No one forces him to sell and no one forces me to buy. We do it because we both think this makes us better off. And that’s all free trade is–no one puts barriers in between people voluntarily exchanging things. But because it is all voluntary there is also no possibility of that trade not being fair. Thus fair trade and free trade are the same thing, or the only fair trade is free trade.


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