Putting tariffs on imported goods or setting other barriers to international trade can be tempting for politicians. They assume that many of their constituents believe that free trade is not fair trade and that other countries aren’t playing by the rules. This belief makes it easy for industry leaders to demand protection for their businesses and their workers—to “put America first.”
But Americans should resist the siren calls of protectionism. In this highly relevant protectionism primer, Pierre Lemieux shows what can happen if they don’t.
As the author demonstrates, trade between any two countries is fair for the same reasons as exchange between two individuals: it is to the benefit of both. Lemieux carefully refutes the arguments of those who would curtail Americans’ access to the benefits of international commerce—from the claim that we can boost economic growth by reducing imports to the belief that free trade leads to “shipping jobs overseas.”
Yes, manufacturing jobs are declining in this country and have been since the 1950s. But, as Lemieux points out, that’s in large part because Americans are making more advanced products more efficiently—that’s our comparative advantage. And this is happening as less-developed countries are producing more labor-intensive, low-tech goods—that’s their comparative advantage. All parties to a trade benefit.
Lemieux shows how free trade improves the lives of American consumers, especially the poor. The narrow agenda of the protectionists—to protect a small minority of producers at the expense of millions of their fellow Americans—is the wrong path for an increasingly diverse and complex economy. This concise primer shows you why.
In The Press
“President Donald Trump insists that the United States is getting ‘ripped off’ by other countries in trade. In this succinct book, Pierre Lemieux provides a great primer on the basics of trade and addresses all the complaints that have become part of the national conversation.”
About The Author
Professor Pierre Lemieux is an economist affiliated with the Department of Management Sciences of the University of Quebec in Outaouais and a senior affiliated scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He has lectured at several universities in Canada and served as a consultant for a number of private and public organizations. Lemieux has written books on economics, public policy, and political philosophy, and he has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Canada’s Financial Post, and France’s Figaro Économie. He lives in Maine.