Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Europe as a Model

Export Goods, Not People

One of the more controversial issues on the US political agenda at the moment is the upcoming vote in the House of Representatives on the Central America Free Trade Area.

The Democrats, supported by the always backward-looking trade unions, are agitating fiercely against the treaty. And the vote will be critical in determining how the wider agenda of opening up world trade will develop.

The former President of Costa Rica Oscar Arias argued forcefully in the Washington Post for ratification of CAFTA. And he sees what has been done in Europe as an inspiration for what can be done in his part of the world:

"The countries of the Americas would be well served by studying the example of the European Union, where trade policies were enacted in conjunction with reasonable aid. Between 1986 and 1999 the income per capita in the poorest countries of Western Europe rose from 65 percent to 78 percent of the European Union average, largely thanks to economic integration with wealthier countries. Such an astonishing leap was made possible not only by the opening of markets but also by the transfer of resources from wealthier to poorer European nations, facilitating investments in technology and infrastructure."

Let's hope the majority of the members of Congress listens to his arguments as well as those of the administration.

We need a more open world - so that it's benefits can be shared also by those now deprived of them.