Saturday, February 20, 2010

UK to US: Your Mercantilist Trade Policy Is Bollocks

I stumbled across a recent blog entry by British Trade Policy Adviser Patrick Thomas that lauds recent US efforts to expand trade but, in typical British fashion, politely explains why the UK's new trade policies are far better (emphasis mine, silly UK spelling his):
[I]t is encouraging that here in Washington, policymakers are talking seriously about engaging with the world through trade. After a year in which trade policy did not feature prominently, President Obama used his State of the Union Address to announce an ambitious plan to double US exports in five years. His Commerce Secretary, Gary Locke, claims that the plan would also support two million jobs in the United States.

Expanding trade is a way to boost economic growth and create jobs, and one that I recommended in my last blog. And in fact, the UK has a comprehensive strategy called 'New Industries, New Jobs', which sees an important role for exports as a driver of growth. What's interesting about the strategy is that it emphasises that exports are only one piece of the puzzle. It recognises that the UK cannot efficiently produce everything by itself. What's key is preparing workers for the high-paying jobs in the industries of tomorrow. To pursue this agenda, it is necessary to recognise that both inward and outward trade flows figure in greater prosperity.

Indeed, modern trade theory tells us that imports are just as important as exports...

The UK has long embraced open trade as a policy, which has played a key role in making Britain a wealthier, more dynamic and more diverse society. So let's promote exports, but let's not forget the benefits of imports as well....
The loud *thud* sound you hear is me falling our of my chair.  Thomas even cited the iPod as an example of how nations benefit from, and thus should embrace, specialization and modern global supply chains.  Good for him.  And great for the UK for adopting a commonsense, 21st century trade policy and (again, politely) calling attention to the asininity of American mercantilism.

If only the White House were listening.

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