The 1990s began with fears of a "great sucking sound" of jobs lost due to the North American Free Trade Agreement and ended with opponents of the World Trade Organization taking to the streets in the "Battle of Seattle". Why has global trade become so controversial? Does free trade deserve its bad reputation? In this book, Douglas Irwin sweeps aside the misconceptions that litter the debate over trade and aims to give the reader a clear understanding of the issues involved. Putting the findings of an extensive body of economic research at the disposal of the general public, Irwin examines the positions of the proponents and critics of free trade - and makes plain the stakes involved in their disagreement, particularly for the United States. He explains the economic benefits of trade, not just for corporations but for people and the environment. He illustrates how protectionist policies damage the economy and fail to save jobs. Examining US trade policy, he shows how "fair trade" measures are arbitrary, unfair, and often harmful. He then attempts to demystify the World Trade Organization and set the record straight about its controversial rulings on trade and the environment.
Irwin does not hold up free trade as a panacea but demonstrates why it is our best alternative.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
"The miracle of trade is how it enriches both parties to the transaction. Douglas Irwin demonstrates with clarity and grace precisely how the benefits of this miracle dominate its costs. This book is must reading for all, and especially for those who would resist its powerful message." - Peter L. Bernstein, publisher of Economics & Portfolio Strategy and author of The Power of Gold "This is an important book that systematically reviews objections to free trade and provides a good assessment of the state of current thinking among economists." - Anne O. Krueger, Stanford University "This is a great book that reviews the case for free trade from an American point of view. Passionate in its arguments, it marshals a large body of evidence - including much that is very recent - into a manageable shape while contributing to the wider debate over free trade." - L. Alan Winters, University of Sussex