In the past decade countries with liberal trade and investment policies have achieved double the average annual growth of relatively closed economies. More individuals, businesses, and nations than ever before depend on the gains from these open markets. Yet anxiety about the effects of greater market integration remains. It is essential for long-term world prosperity that countries’ commitment to trade and investment liberalization be sustained. But to be credible, the commitment must be rooted in and enjoy broad public support and understanding. This makes it all the more important to explain what open markets can and cannot do and what they can be held responsible for. Liberalization is not painless. It should not be considered a cure-all or an end in itself. It is, however, an essential component of any coherent set of policies aimed at helping societies adjust to—and take advantage of—technology-driven transformations whose pace and depth are unprecedented. The stakes are high.
This book examines the ways open markets deliver their considerable benefits to countries and their citizens, recalls the real pocketbook costs of protectionism, and addresses concerns that market liberalization will increase unemployment, skew income distribution, endanger the environment, and compromise national sovereignty.
The main theme of the book is that liberalization is part of the solution to the problems that concern people, not the cause. The book’s comprehensive treatment of the ins and outs of trade and investment liberalization make it essential reading for public officials, business leaders, and others who wish to take an active part in supporting open markets.