viernes, diciembre 08, 2006

¡Contestó Jagdish!

Hace unos días mencioné que el Profesor Jagdish Bhagwati estaría contestando preguntas en el blog del IHT. Vale la pena revisar cada respuesta y los comentarios posteriores.

Yo me atreví con una breve intervención y aquí está el resultado:

Q. What’s your opinion regarding the trade situation in Latin America? Free trade agreements with the United States seem to be gone for good and Doha is absolutely paralyzed. What should our countries do?

Enrique Avogadro

A. First, you do not need to be so pessimistic about Doha. Much progress has been made at both Cancun and Hong Kong. We are now in final play where the United States, EU, Brazil and India have to make the final concessions. The U.S. has sat comfortably on the sidelines, allowing the EU to take the brunt of attacks. Unfortunately, while President Lula has been forthright about this, the Andean countries have been less than forceful in doing so; they need to step up to the plate.

Part of the problem, of course, has been the preoccupation by the U.S., and some Latin American countries, with FTAs with the U.S. American trade policy, led by former U.S. Trade Representative Zoellick, has been intellectually bankrupt and has actively aided the spread of FTAs by itself and, often in a tit-for-tat move, in Asia. The result is chaos in the trading system, with non-discrimination (the central principle of GATT and WTO) virtually destroyed. With the U.S. lobbies using these FTAs to get smaller countries into one-on-one bargaining to extract all kinds of non-trade concessions, the embrace of such FTAs is dangerous also to the Latin American countries. Moreover, the more the U.S. can play the FTA game, the less incentive it has to push for a successful Doha where the Latin American and other developing countries would gain more.

Will the heavens collapse for your trade, however, if no more trade liberalization takes place? Of course not. The Far Eastern economies built an economic miracle based on exports when the world was far less open. You can as well. The OECD markets are much more open today, and trade continues to expand. Just make sure that you maintain domestic policies that do not discourage export performance. That is the lesson we learnt from the East Asian experience of the 1960s and 1970s, and it is a formula that has been underlined also by the experience of both China and India whose export and economic performance changed wonderfully once they had reduced their own trade barriers and removed the anti-trade incentives that such barriers create.

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