The thing that saddens me at this time of declining confidence in trade is that people are losing the bigger-picture perspective of the benefits of trade, while reaching for the latest and closest facts and figures, many of which are questionable, to supposedly justify their negative opinion.
Two of those bigger-picture benefits are particularly timely in today’s world: peace and climate. In the first case, trade is a deterrent to war. It is the exchange of goods and services that necessarily brings people together from different cultures and bridges political divides. Without trade, the world would be in an even more dangerous state.
In the second case, trade can help save our climate. It is trade that will facilitate the necessary transfer of clean, affordable technology to countries with the biggest emissions problems, a situation that ultimately knows no boundaries and which all the citizens of the world will share.
When we think of the world that we are preparing our children to inherit, I want one that will have as much peace and stability as possible, and one that will be as clean as possible. Trade is a big facilitator of those things and we too often lose that perspective as we go for shortterm, quick-fix solutions in response to the necessary adjustments and changes that trade does involve.
America is the land of innovation, of strength, and the proven ability to compete. Trade clearly benefits our society in the long run. Our leaders need to recognize this and act accordingly.
Peter M. Robinson is president of the United States Council for International Business. He can be reached at (212) 354-4480 or firstname.lastname@example.org.