Trade on top

Trade wins over protectionism (as it should). This is what Dani Rodrik seems to be saying in this quite appreciated article:

"There was a dog that didn’t bark during the financial crisis: protectionism. Despite much hue and cry about it, governments have, in fact, imposed remarkably few trade barriers on imports. Indeed, the world economy remains as open as it was before the crisis struck."

The reasons for international trade's triumph is laid out in the article as well:

"The reality is that the international trade regime has passed its greatest test since the Great Depression with flying colours. Trade economists who complain about minor instances of protectionism sound like a child whining about a damaged toy in the wake of an earthquake that killed thousands.

Three things explain this remarkable resilience: ideas, politics and institutions.

Economists have been extraordinarily successful in conveying their message to policymakers—even if ordinary people still regard imports with considerable suspicion. Nothing reflects this better than how “protection” and “protectionists” have become terms of derision. After all, governments are generally expected to provide protection to their citizens. But if you say that you favour protection “from imports”, you are painted into a corner with Reed Smoot and Willis C. Hawley, authors of the infamous 1930 US tariff bill.

But economists’ ideas would not have gone very far without significant changes in the underlying configuration of political interests in favour of open trade. For every worker and firm affected by import competition, there is one or more worker and firm expecting to reap the benefits of access to markets abroad."

Now if only local protectionists could be exposed for their intellectual bankruptcy, the sooner the Philippines could get economic competitiveness.