Free Trade Today

Free Trade Today

Product ID: 9402

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Author: Jagdish Bhagwati
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Year: 2002
Language: English
Pages: 148
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0195662032


Free trade, indeed economic globalization generally, is under siege Based on his acclaimed Stockholm lectures, Jagdish Bhagwati argues that free trade, by raising living standards, can serve these agendas far better than can a descent into trade sanctions and restrictions.

Free trade, indeed economic globalization generally, is under siege. The conventional arguments for protectionism have been discredited but not banished. And free trade faces strong new challenges from environmentalists and human rights activists as well as traditional lobbies who wrap their agendas in the language of justice and rights? These groups, claiming a general interest and denouncing free trade as a special interest of corporations and other capitalist forces, have organized large and vocal protests in Seattle, Prague, and elsewhere.

Based on his acclaimed Stockholm lectures, Jagdish Bhagwati applies critical insights from revolutionary developments in commercial policy theory—many his own—to show how the pursuit of social and environmental agendas can be creatively reconciled with the pursuit of free trade. Indeed, he argues that free trade, by raising living standards, can serve these agendas far better than can a descent into trade sanctions and restrictions.

After settling the score in favor of free trade, Professor Bhagwati considers alternative ways in which it can be pursued. Chiefly, he argues in support of multilateralism and advances a withering critique of recent bilateral and regional free trade agreements (including NAFTA) as preferential arrangements that introduce growing chaos into the world trading system. He also makes a strong case for ‘going it alone’ on the road to trade liberalization and endorses the re-emergence of unilateral liberalization at points around the globe.

Forcefully, elegantly and clearly written by one of the foremost economic thinkers of our day, this volume is not merely accessible but essential reading for anyone interested in economic policy in the world economy. Professor Bhagwati has written a new preface for this Indian edition.


Bhagwati is the prime warrior for free trade. In this splendid book, he encapsulates all major arguments in favor of free trade and debunks many arguments against it in a lucid and entertaining style. The arguments are up to date, addressing all key issues of the last decade.
—Elhanan Helpman, Harvard University and Tel Aviv University

Jagdish Bhagwati is easily the most creative international trade theorist of his generation, whose work has changed fundamentally the way we now think about free trade and protection. He is also our leader in the fight for free trade: his witty, graceful, and incisive opeds and reviews in the leading magazines and newspapers worldwide and his public debates deliver unceasingly the coup de grace to the myriad critics of free trade. ‘Free Trade Today’, which brings under one rubric the deep insights from modern theory—much of it his own work—to refute these critics, is a tour de force.
—Arvind Panagariya, University of Maryland

Trade liberalization in the second half of the twentieth century brought huge benefits, especially to those less-developed countries which seized the new opportunities. Now these gains are being threatened by ‘Seattle-person’, the offspring of an alliance between forces of ignorance and special interests. Jagdish Bhagwati’s courageous stand against this threat merits our admiration. His rigorous yet lively restatement of the case for free trade should be required reading for all participants in the public debate on globalization.
—Avinash K Dixit, Princeton University

Professor Bhagwati is our most powerful and persuasive advocate of free trade. In this book he does two important things: he punctures all the standard false arguments for protection, and he uses the modern theory of commercial policy to suggest how a balanced approach to trade and social policy might look. And all of this comes in a compact, lively, and readable package.
—Robert M Solow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and 1987 Nobel Laureate in Economics


preface to the south Asian Edition VII
Preface XI

Lecture I
confronting Conventional Threats to Free trade
The Postwar resolution
in the Theory of commercial policy 1

Fair Trade Income Distribution and Social Agendas using Trade Theory to meet new Challenges 45
Getting to Free Trade:
Alternative Approaches and their theoretical Rationale 95
index 121