Frihandel i media vecka 19

2019-05-05

Johan Alfonsson på Aftonbladets kultursida anmäler Mattias Svenssons och Fredrik Segerfeldts nya bok Frihandel för nybörjare. 

“I boken, som är ett brandtal för frihandeln, berättas att Sveriges tillväxt från 1850-talet och framåt huvudsakligen beror på en liberaliserad utrikeshandel. Författarna argumenterar bland annat för att handel är orsaken till att den absoluta fattigdomen i världen har minskat, är bra för miljön och har lett till billigare flygresor. Handelshinder håller kvar länder i fattigdom, gör att konsumenter får sämre och dyrare varor och påstås till och med vara en bidragande orsak till andra världskriget.

Huvudargumentet är att då företag konkurrerar fritt kan de som producerar de bästa och billigaste varorna slå ut de sämre. Konsumenterna får fler, bättre och billigare varor. Handelshinder gör varor dyrare och sämre.

Ett tankeväckande exempel som används är att EU årligen subventionerar det inhemska jordbruket med 600 miljarder kronor, pengar som kommer från skattebetalare vilka på så vis betalar dubbelt för sin mat, samtidigt som bättre producenter stängs ute.

Utgångspunkten är att frihandeln i dag är hotad. Med högernationalister på frammarsch är det en oro som är lätt att förstå. Författarna för ett mindre övertygande argument att hotet syns i det faktum att handeln stagnerat. Handelns andel av världens BNP har inte ökat nämnvärt sen krisen 2008, men samtidigt är siffran den högsta någonsin och ser ut att ha börjat öka igen.

I ett intressant kapitel gör författarna upp med den återkommande idén att arbetstillfällen generellt skulle försvinna på grund av handeln. En bild som ju både högern och vänstern använt sig av.

De gör ett viktigt påpekande att visst försvinner jobb på grund av internationell konkurrens, men nya kommer också till (här är de dock motsägelsefulla då det på annat håll hävdas att arbeten försvinner till följd av handelshinder). De påstår att detta leder till att låglönejobben försvinner och allt fler i stället hamnar i välbetalda framtidsyrken. Detta stämmer dock inte. Forskning har visat att arbetsmarknaden snarare polariserats. De högbetalda jobben har ökat men det har också de lågbetalda. Det är jobben i mitten som försvunnit. Ojämlikheten har således ökat.

Författarna menar att det primärt är låginkomsttagare som har gynnats av frihandeln, eftersom den gör att varor blir billigare och därför kommer denna grupp till del. Denna bild går inte ihop med det faktum att real-lönerna sen 1970-talet stagnerat, och av de allt mindre löneökningarna har en allt mindre del gått till de lägst betalda. Konkurrensen har skapat en maktförskjutning på arbetsmarknaden där vissa grupper har prekariserats. Denna berättelse ryms inte i lovsången till frihandel.”

 

2019-05-06

“Afrikas EU” går framåt. I The National Interest skriver Alexander C. R. Hammond, Senior Fellow vid African Liberty : 

“Africa has just secured its free-trading future.

After the west African nation The Gambia ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in April, the twenty-two-nation threshold needed for the trade pact to come into effect has now been reached. This is great news for Africa, because not only will a continent-wide free-trade area boost the region’s economy, but the AfCFTA represents an important ideological shift away from the socialist tendencies that have haunted much of the continent since its independence.

Unfortunately, most African nations fully embraced the socialist economic model when they were freed from their colonial rulers. As the president of the Free Africa Foundation George Ayittey notes, “capitalism was identified with colonialism, and since the latter was evil and exploitative, so too was the former.” Quite simply, socialism “was advocated as the only road to Africa’s prosperity.”

Africa’s socialist experiment started in 1957, when Ghana became the first nation on the continent to be granted their independence. Ghana’s first leader Kwame Nkrumah was a self-proclaimed “Marxian Socialist,” and encouraged other African states to seek independence and pursue the “complete ownership of the economy by the state.”

Many African leaders followed Nkrumah’s socialist example: Modibo Keita of Mali, Sekou Touré of Guinea, and Leopold Senghor of Senegal—just to name a few. These rulers were often dubbed “the main architects of African Socialism.” But in spite of their early socialist influence, today, all four of these countries are opening themselves up to freedom with the AfCFTA.

(—)

Another benefit of the AfCFTA lies in uniting many African states under a single market, making it easier for Africa to trade with the rest of the world. If all AU member-states were to ratify the AfCFTA, just one set of trade deals is needed to be negotiated with each external trade partner—rather than fifty-five individual trade agreements for each African nation.

That’s not to say that Africa’s broad turn toward economic liberalization will solve all of the continent’s problems, or that Africa has been completely taken over by free-trading tendencies. So far, only twenty-two AU member-states have ratified the free-trade area, and although more are expected to join in the coming months, there is still a long way to go until the entire continent joins the trade area. Similarly, Nigeria, which has the continent’s largest economy, remains vehemently opposed to the trade deal.

Yet although socialism does continue to show its ugly face across Africa, we can all celebrate the fact that the socialist ideology that plagued the continent for decades is no longer mainstream. The AfCFTA truly has the potential to grow Africa’s economy and lift many out of poverty. When the deal is implemented later this year, it should be seen as a sign that Africa is turning it back on its socialist past and is embracing a new, prosperous, free-trading future. Africans should hope that this trend will continue.”

2019-05-08

Pressklippen känns nästan inte kompletta utan en kommentar om Donald Trumps handelspolitik. Här Washington Examiners ledare

“President Trump is taking a gamble this week on trade. He is threatening to impose massive tariffs against Chinese goods, which would be bad for American consumers but perhaps much worse for an increasingly wobbly Chinese economy.

As bad as that all sounds in principle, this is a calculated risk that Trump is taking with a worthy goal in mind. He wants to force China’s regime back to the negotiating table, to hash out a trade deal that will end, among other things, China’s policy of expanding its economy using the stolen intellectual property of companies that do business there.

This is a judgment call that Trump is better positioned to make than we are. Moreover, in the long run, everyone will benefit from a favorable trade agreement that binds China’s regime to the basic norms of ethics and fair play that Westerners take for granted.

President Trump is taking a gamble this week on trade. He is threatening to impose massive tariffs against Chinese goods, which would be bad for American consumers but perhaps much worse for an increasingly wobbly Chinese economy.

As bad as that all sounds in principle, this is a calculated risk that Trump is taking with a worthy goal in mind. He wants to force China’s regime back to the negotiating table, to hash out a trade deal that will end, among other things, China’s policy of expanding its economy using the stolen intellectual property of companies that do business there.

This is a judgment call that Trump is better positioned to make than we are. Moreover, in the long run, everyone will benefit from a favorable trade agreement that binds China’s regime to the basic norms of ethics and fair play that Westerners take for granted.

In addition to that, tariffs also invite retaliatory tariffs, harming U.S. exporters and putting Americans out of work. To cite just one example, even Trump understands that American commodity farmers are currently getting killed by his tariff war; that’s why his administration has been forced to subsidize them. Farmers, other exporters, and taxpayers, then — not just the Chinese — are paying the wholly unnecessary costs of Trump’s tariffs.

Trump also discussed the trade deficit this week in a way that doesn’t inspire confidence in what he’s trying to accomplish. “The United States has been losing, for many years, 600 to 800 Billion Dollars a year on Trade,” he tweeted Monday. “With China we lose 500 Billion Dollars. Sorry, we’re not going to be doing that anymore!”

This perpetuates at least two more false notions. The first is that a trade deficit represents a national “loss” of money. But every surplus dollar that a Chinese company receives in exchange for goods represents a dollar that has to be exchanged. As a result, the changing relative value of international currencies ultimately makes up for whatever imbalances exist. The anti-traders’ oft-cited doomsday scenario, in which the U.S. buys everything from China and nothing is made or built domestically, can never occur. Long before things reached that point, the Chinese would voluntarily slow or stop their exports in the face of a weakening dollar, at which point they would benefit more from importing American-made goods and services.

The second false notion embedded in Trump’s tweet is that trade policy can directly cause deficits or surpluses in the first place. This is not so, and one need not look far for an example. Just during Trump’s own tenure, he has imposed multiple tariffs on nations from Europe to Asia to the Americas, and the trade deficit increased by nearly 20% in his first two full years as president. But again, this isn’t a bad thing, it’s a sign of a strong U.S. economy. If Trump really wants to lower trade deficits, he should cripple U.S. economic growth (a terrible idea) or cut government spending (a good idea that he won’t try). It is not an accident that the only meaningful reduction in the U.S. trade deficit this century came about as a result of the economic downturn of 2007-2009.”

 

 

 


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