Free Trade: Problematic Theory and Anachronistic Faith

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Despite disruptive and costly impacts of imports, the U.S. maintains adherence to an ideal of free trade as the goal of trade policy. This article questions that axiomatic preference in arguing that goods from low‐wage and non‐market economies pose significant trade policy issues.

It sets forth the costly effects of such imports on workers and producers and asks whether trade benefits are commensurate. It addresses the fairness of competition between American and non‐market producers as well as the viability of U. S. fair trade safeguards.

The article ultimately observes that there is a basic conflict of interest between comparatively less developed low‐wage countries and high‐cost, high‐employment nations and that free trade theory does not produce an acceptable resolution of this conflict. At stake for the U.S. is its standard of living and its social values as well. Management of trade thus is not a vestige but an essential part of this nation's commitments.

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Law and Policy

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