Free trade, indeed economic globalization generally, is under siege. The conventional arguments for protectionism have been discredited but not banished. And free trade faces strong new challenges from a variety of groups, including environmentalists and human rights activists as well as traditional lobbies who wrap their agendas in the language of justice and rights. These groups, claiming a general interest and denouncing free trade as a special interest of corporations and other capitalist forces, have organized large and vocal protests in Seattle, Prague, and elsewhere.
Based on his acclaimed Stockholm lectures and picking up where his widely influential "Protectionism" left off, Jagdish Bhagwati applies critical insights from revolutionary developments in commercial policy theory--many his own--to show how the pursuit of social and environmental agendas can be creatively reconciled with the pursuit of free trade. Indeed, he argues that free trade, by raising living standards, can serve these agendas far better than can a descent into trade sanctions and restrictions.
After settling the score in favor of free trade, Professor Bhagwati considers alternative ways in which it can be pursued. Chiefly, he argues in support of multilateralism and advances a withering critique of recent bilateral and regional free trade agreements (including NAFTA) as preferential arrangements that introduce growing chaos into the world trading system. He also makes a strong case for "going it alone" on the road to trade liberalization and endorses the reemergence of unilateral liberalization at points around the globe.
Forcefully, elegantly, and clearly written for the public by one of the foremost economic thinkers of our day, this volume is not merely accessible but essential reading for anyone interested in economic policy or in the world economy.
"A delight to read; and Bhagwati's irrepressible personality bubbles through on every page... [A] ride that is worth the ticket."--Robert Lawrence, Financial Times "Jagdish Bhagwati is a very distinguished writer, with a world reputation as a careful but passionate proponent of free trade."--Times Literary Supplement "One of the best things about the book is that it confounds stereotypes. Mr. Bhagwati, it emerges clearly, is a liberal in both the old and new senses of the word: he is for free trade, but he is for ambitious social policies too."--The Economist "The book is breezy and nontechnical in style, yet highly sophisticated in content. [Bhagwati] provides a spirited riposte to all critics, to whom he pays respect by taking them seriously. He then proceeds to demolish their positions, finding them in logical error, empirically unsupported, or reflecting valid concerns that are better addressed directly rather than indirectly by restricting trade, which would impose unnecessary costs."--Foreign Affairs "Free Trade Today is short and thoroughly readable, summarizing the key argument in an easy, folksy manner."--Michael Brennan, Policy "A presentation by a future Nobel Laureate."--Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung "Free Trade Today ... is entertaining and scholarly and, of course, authoritative... Bhagwati is magisterial, dealing succinctly with general theory and its application to current debates."--L. Alan Winters, International Finance "A pleasure to read--unusually for an economist, Bhagwati writes with wit and verve."--Vijay Joshi and Robert Skidelsky, New York Review of Books