Trade is win-win. Two people trade only because each values what he gets more than what he gives up. That’s why in a store both customer and clerk say, “Thank you.”
At the international level, trade is also win-win because it allows countries to specialize in what they do well and trade the extra for things they don’t make as well. When free trade is unmolested, the world is richer and has more choices.
“If you’re trading with them, it makes war much less likely,” Palmer said. “We’re not going to go to war with Canada. It’s our biggest trading partner—$600 billion a year going across the U.S.-Canada border in trade along the longest non-militarized border in the world. Five thousand miles, counting Alaska. That is trade creating peace.”
As the French economist Frederic Bastiat put it, “When goods don’t cross borders, soldiers will.”
President Bush joined the moral debate, telling his audience: “Open trade is not just an economic opportunity, it is a moral imperative. Trade creates jobs for the unemployed. When we negotiate for open markets, we are providing new hope for the world’s poor. And when we promote open trade, we are promoting political freedom. Societies that open to commerce across their borders will open to democracy within their borders, not always immediately, and not always smoothly, but in good time.”
Free Trade Respects Individual Dignity and Sovereignty
Every citizen who has produced or acquired a product should have the option of applying it immediately to his own use or of transferring it to whoever on the face of the earth agrees to give him in exchange the object of his desires. To deprive him of this option when he has committed no act contrary to public order and good morals, and solely to satisfy the convenience of another citizen, is to legitimize an act of plunder and to violate the law of justice.
Free Trade Restrains the Power of the State
Free trade is morally superior to protectionism because it places trust in what Adam Smith called “the natural system of liberty” rather than in a man-centered system of centralized industrial policy. By doing so it allows citizens to fulfill their creative and productive potential.
Free Trade Encourages Individuals to Cultivate Moral Virtues
To be successful in a free and open marketplace, producers must serve their fellow human beings by providing goods and services others want and need. The most economically successful will be those who provide not just for a select few, but for a broad segment of consumers.
Trade opens the door for relationships that transcend economic exchange. When nations trade with one another, more than material goods crosses borders. People and ideas inevitably follow through the same open doors. Fax machines, cellular telephones, and the Internet are rapidly spreading as tools of international business, but they are also tools of friendship and evangelism.