Not to brag, but my homeland has a pretty good record when it comes to trade liberalization. Even the center-left Labor party is supportive of multilateral trade negotiations, although they have historically been less enamored of bilateral and regional preferential deals. (A completely respectable view, by the way). Indeed, the most substantial unilateral trade liberalization efforts in Australia’s history occured under Labor governments.
Simon Crean, the current (Labor) Minister for Trade recently confirmed that commitment in the face of trade union opposition. In a statement that could have come directly from Cato’s Center for Trade Policy Studies, he said:
People seem to think that jobs can be protected by reverting to protectionism. The exact opposite is the case. If the country and the world reverts to protectionism, it costs jobs and lowers living standards.
Minister Crean then went on to make mildly mercantalist noises about how many Australian jobs are “trade related” – and you can be sure he is not referring to imports – but, really, I shouldn’t nit-pick. If more governments, including those of the center-left, were as supportive of free trade and as skeptical of protectionism, the global economy would be better off.
HT: our friends over at the Club for Growth.