Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Nation and Abhisit's Free Trade Delusions

Trade barriers will not boost local economies

The Nation

A rise in protectionist thinking must be snuffed out before it worsens the current economic crisis

The latest figures released by the World Bank show that trade protectionism is on the rise amid the current global financial crisis. The World Bank study shows that 17 out of the G-20 developing countries have implemented restrictive trade measures. The report released in Washington on Tuesday said that since G-20 leaders signed a pledge in November 2008 to avoid protectionist measures, several countries, including 17 of its own members, have implemented 47 measures that restrict trade at the expense of other countries.


First of all, trade restrictive measures are not desirable, especially when the world is in need of policies and programmes that will boost trade across borders. While countries are trying to boost consumer confidence at home to stimulate domestic spending, governments should at the same time try to bolster transactions by promoting the exchange of goods between nations.

Protectionist measures not only distort the market, they also dampen the prospects of economic growth for all nations. Free international trade can help upgrade the wellbeing of people in all countries. In addition, history has always shown that trade restrictive measures are not the answer to boost economies.

Besides these factors, the rise of trade restrictive measures will adversely affect the World Trade Organisation's trade liberalisation talks. In fact, developing nations will benefit more from the liberalisation agreements under the Doha Round of talks because they will be able to export more agricultural products if all member countries agree to cut unfair farm subsidies. The rise of protectionism runs against the spirit of the WTO.

I am really annoyed with The Nation and Abhisit and their hypocritical lectures on free trade.

Thailand is not a free trade country; it is a protectionist country.

Foreigners can't own their own property. No foreign country except the US gets national treatment under the law when it comes to owning a business. In fact, most foreigners are restricted to a high degree from doing business in Thailand.

Not only are there restrictions to foreign owned business, Thailand has high tariff and non-tariff barriers to foreign goods and most services are restricted under the FBA.

What is even more ridiculous is when the Democrats and the Thai media go into hysterics over selling out the country to foreigners, such as when Thaksin sold his business to Singapore, then have their hats in hand out to get MFN treatment abroad.

I remember when the US-Thai FTA was being negotiated. It was the Democrats and the Thai media who were beating the drums of Bang Rajan and crying about Thailand losing its sovereignty to the evil imperialists.

The Nation needs to get a grip on its hypocrisy. Nobody on that editorial staff really believes in free trade. They believe in protection for themselves, free from any foreign competition, while demanding that every country should have its doors open to Thailand without any restrictions whatsoever.

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