Does the U.S. Need a New Trade Policy?

Bhagwati, Jagdish N.

The assertion that the US needs a new trade policy – on the assumption that the US has been embracing multilateral free trade as an objective, an assumption that is itself somewhat dubious, to say the least – has come from several politicians, often among the Democrats, and indeed in varying ways from a handful of economists, some of whom are on the Panel today. Yet, I wish to argue that this is a flawed demand. It comes in several ways from the politicians. At Columbia University some months ago, for instance, we had a Panel on which Charlie Rangel, my Congressman (as Harlem is behind Columbia), declared with a flourish: so far, under the Republicans, trade policy was designed to serve the interests of corporations; now, with Democrats in control of the Congress, it will be re-designed to serve the people. An intellectual or an economist who specializes on international trade would find this amusing, to say the least. But it is a sentiment that goes well beyond the likes of the “anti-trade” or “trade-skeptical” Congressmen Bernie Sanders and Sherrod Brown.



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Journal of Policy Modeling

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January 28, 2013