Wednesday, June 29, 2005
On this day:

Davis on CAFTA

One of Rep. Davis's arguments against CAFTA goes like this:
...CAFTA is different [from other free trade agreements that he claims to have supported]. For the first time, we create a duty-free zone with a collection of developing nations whose economies are wracked with poverty, whose social and civic cultures are largely unprotective of basic worker rights, and whose work force is populated primarily with unskilled labor. We fail to use our substantial economic leverage to influence fundamental reform of the local institutions that sustain these conditions. The result is that CAFTA abandons this president's much-publicized zeal for advancing freedom within unequal, crueler societies.
Davis is just plain wrong. Trade constitutes our greatest economic leverage over the world's "unequal and cruel societies." When those societies embrace free markets and economic liberty, as the CAFTA nations have done, the United States should take advantage of that win-win opportunity. Trade is the most mutually beneficial way to bring freedom and prosperity to developing countries. It seems to me that there are two plausible alternatives here - trade or aid. If you believe in free markets, there should be no question over which one to choose.