In further defense of trade

. . . is the topic of my latest Trade Tripper column in this Friday-Saturday issue of BusinessWorld. Excerpts:

"The other error that supporters of trade make is that they excuse trade liberalization as a matter of gains vis-a-vis compromises that one makes in the normal course of trade negotiations. This argument goes that allowing imports is an unavoidable "concession" in exchange for a country being able to export its goods. That is wrong. And intellectually dishonest. Countries trade because the imports by themselves are good regardless of the exports. The imports are beneficial because the consumer and domestic industries now get to avail themselves of the better-quality and lower-priced goods and raw materials from countries with a comparative advantage on such. Understandably, there is a certain amount of difficulty in getting this message across but supporters of trade would do well to bear in mind this important fact.

Finally, supporters of trade should remember that trade always imposes certain demands on a country. It would require better internal infrastructure and governance. Otherwise, the benefits of trade would be terribly mitigated. It definitely would need companies to be more competitive. Trade does not make companies competitive. Companies just now have the option to be competitive because there is trade. It is merely still a competition, for which a country has the choice to work harder or fall by the wayside."