Tina K. Russell

April 18, 2008


Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Tina Russell @ 11:14 pm

Colombia Trade Accord – New York Times

You may recall, dear readers, that I leaned towards the position of ratifying the Colombian trade deal in an earlier post. Here are two letters against the deal in The New York Times, and actually, I think they’re pretty solid.

Make up your own mind, I guess.


  1. Tina, I’m sure you’ve heard the old saw “The difference between theory and practice, in theory, is less than the difference between theory and practice, in practice.”

    The issue with the Colombian agreement provides us with another fine example.

    Yes, free trade is fine in theory, and when practiced between advanced civil societies, generally results in harmonious practice.

    But, not always.

    And we need to understand the exceptions in order not to be surprised at the unintended consequences.

    Comment by Marek Roumineni-Black — April 22, 2008 @ 3:55 am

  2. I’m kind of annoyed by the idea that free trade can only be practiced by “advanced civil societies,” though. What, so Columbia just can’t _handle_ us? They’re not _advanced_ enough for a full-scale incursion of American awesomeness? …Or something?

    I don’t know… I think the only way I’d be able to accept some kind of argument against the Columbia trade deal is if

    a) It’s some kind of wacky exception… for instance, as one of those letters pointed out, we may need to dangle the free-trade carrot a little longer over Uribe to get him to promote human rights more aggressively, or

    b) I truly believed that Columbia is not ready for free trade, that its industries would be crushed by the competition and that it would need some maturation under protectionism before it actually became ready to compete in the global arena.

    I don’t know… it sounds like to me that Columbia merely wants a greater market to sell its wares on, and I’m sympathetic to trade deals in this xenophobic atmosphere in Congress that seems to think foreign imports are Satan. Also, I would like to bolster an ally in Latin America, since it seems like we have so few allies left (…in general, and yeah, it’s all our fault).

    Believe me, I’m not a free-trade fundamentalist. I think we ought to do what’s best for the local and global economy in each case we consider. I’m also not an expert on Columbia, or really know much of anything about it. I lean towards ratifying the trade deal because I want to give Columbia access to global markets so that they can earn more money from their hard work. I want them to be able to sell to Americans without worrying too much about tariffs or things like that, so they can have a level playing field. So, I feel that arguments against the deal ought to be specific to Columbia’s case… and those arguments in those letters to the editor were specific to Columbia’s case, which is why I linked to them.

    Free trade is good in theory _and_ in practice. It’s tough for some liberals to believe that yes, there’s a strong economic theory behind it. The difficulty is that free trade is not good _everywhere_, as there are nascent economies not ready to compete on the global scale. I don’t think we should be arrogant, though, and assume that Columbia is not ready because, obviously, it’s not yet competing on that scale (and they won’t ever, I would imagine, without access to global markets). Globalization is a difficult process, and should be handled with all due care and sensitivity to local cultures and economies. But, the talk in Congress on Columbia strikes me as knee-jerk xenophobia, fear that Columbia will somehow make it harder for us to compete (we really should be more confident in our abilities as a nation).

    Comment by Tina Russell — April 22, 2008 @ 10:28 am

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