Dear Baltimore Sun: Perils of Protectionism

Editor, Baltimore Sun

Dear Editor:

Bravo for British ambassador Nigel Sheinwald's case for freer trade ("The peril of protectionism," June 8).

One clarification, though: he says that "our globalized economy has not come about by accident. It is the result of our collective choice for openness." If Mr. Sheinwald is referring to multilateral trade agreements such as the GATT, he's correct as matter of history, but he should also point out that any country would gain from free trade even if it tears down its customs walls unilaterally.

If instead Mr. Sheinwald is referring to each government's choice to move toward freer trade, his words unintentionally mislead. What requires government action - what requires "collective choice" - is protectionism. Free trade exists naturally. Free trade is simply the absence of trade restrictions - the absence of officious interference with those engaged in consensual capitalist acts.


Donald J. Boudreaux

Don Boudreaux is the Chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University and a Business & Media Institute adviser.