Free Trade Essay

1084 words - 4 pages

Free trade is a part of the geopolitical landscape today, but that was not always the case. In terms of free trade, the practice of reciprocal non-interference had been followed in the second period between 1934 and 1990, but there had also been very different results ("Civil," 1999). The period witnessed an expansion in terms of the scope of civil society, and a growing labor movement had become increasingly involved in the debate; this occurred in addition to the shift in national objectives (1999). What happened was that the United States switched from a protectionist to a free-trade position with the enactment of the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1934 (RTAA) (1999). The move gave the president the authority to negotiate and impose tariff-reduction agreements (1999). The recurring conflicts in respect to the various factions within U.S. civil society had been resolved by a variation on reciprocal non-interference, where specific groups that objected to the overall policy of trade liberalization could be "bought off" with the extension of special treatment (1999).For example, a president might promise steel companies that he would restrict imports with the use of import quotas, and also could win the support of farmers with the proposal of export subsidies ("Civil," 1999). The concessions were in fact contrary to the spirit of free trade, but they were designed to win new votes and further, neither side would interfere with the othersÕ concessions anyway (1999). The Roosevelt administration viewed trade as well as labor policy as mutually supportive in terms of the advancing interests of American workers, so that the RTAA had been enacted at the same time that Congress approved important protections for organized labor in addition to U.S. entry into the International Labor Organization (1999).During the 1930s, and throughout the mid-1960s, many unions would actively support the broader objectives of American foreign policy, something that would include trade liberalization ("Civil," 1999). Their position had been based partially on economic interests but also on ideological orientation and by the time the early 1960s rolled around, concerns about increased imports created concerns about laborÕs defection from the pro-trade arena (1999). The Kennedy administration would manage to maintain laborÕs support through an extension of a program of trade adjustment assistance (TAA) (1999). It offered special benefits to workers who lose their jobs to import competition and in the spirit of reciprocal non-interference, other participants who are in the trade debate do not object to the concession (1999). A third period in the development of the trade debates began in the early 1990s (1999). It is further marked by the expansion in the scope of civil society and its newest entrants in the debate are environmentalists as well as consumer groups, many of whom have made common cause with labor unions in opposing further trade...

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