Free trade is one of the greatest liberating forces on earth—why is it so unpopular?by John McTernan / May 4, 2016 / Leave a comment
“Trade! Huh! Who is it good for? Absolutely everyone!” As, Edwin Starr didn’t write. But seriously, why, given the fact that trade creates jobs and growth, cuts prices and pays our wages, is it so unpopular?
The latest sign of the low regard in which trade is held is the announcement by French President Francois Hollande that he will never sign up to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership—a proposed trade deal between the US and the European Union—in its current form. Some see that as a death knell for the agreement, though the ambition of a deal being done within three years—as was the original timetable—was an overstretch. Trade treaties do, though, traditionally take years to complete. The Doha Round of trade negotiations under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has been going since 2001 and paused since 2008. This is more than a sobering counter to the notion that post-Brexit an EU-UK trade deal would be rapidly forthcoming.