20 Years of NAFTA: Has Trade Been Made Any Freer?

Twenty years ago today the North American Free Trade Agreement was put in to action. Ideally “the world’s largest free trade area” should be reason to celebrate——finally a large scale example of free trade in the real world!——but unfortunately there’s less to celebrate than one might hope. From the photo of the North American Free Trade Agreement binder one can see that it was not a simple deal. Thousands of pages and sections by battling lawyers filled this tome spelling out all the details and conditions of controlled trade opening. Each paragraph, sentence, and word was worth thousands, if not millions, of dollars of lobbying to shape this agreement. Time and again libertarians need to stress that free trade is something to be declared, not negotiated. Hong Kong derived success by simply declaring unilateral free trade. It didn’t matter whether other nations reciprocated or not. Consider Frederic Bastiat’s great scenario, the city downstream versus the city upstream. If one way trade barriers were some kind of advantage, then cities upstream and on mountaintops would have prospered and the nations downstream nearest the ocean would have languished because of all that “easy access.” The reality of life is just the opposite. The natural flow of a river gives ease of commerce for those downstream and “protective” obstacles upstream and on mountaintops that cripple their enterprise. Nations of the world would be better off by declaring unilateral free trade, but the powerful special interest lobbies of politicians stand in the way. NAFTA was filled with these obstacles, as boulders on the road, but one has to conclude that the trend of gradual reduction of barriers has been in the direction of more openness. This has been much to the benefit and general prosperity of the people of North America.

ISIL Puerto Vallarta Conference Spurs Movement Growth

Advancing Liberty In Latin America ISIL Puerto Vallarta Conference Spurs Movement Growth – by Vince Miller – ISIL’s world conference was held this year (2002) from July 28 to Aug 1 at the luxurious La Jolla de Mismaloya hotel in the Pacific Coast resort of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Mexico and Latin America in general (with the exception of Chile) over the past decades have produced seemingly unending spectacles of economic chaos, grinding poverty and massive political corruption. Not an area where one would pin much hope for a libertarian renaissance. But a libertarian movement has been emerging in the region, and the goal of this year’s ISIL world conference was to strengthen the network and inspire an acceleration of its growth. As you will read, these goals were met, indeed our expectations were exceeded. We assembled many of the titans of a powerful radical libertarian movement for change in Latin America: Manuel Ayau, founder of the free-market Francisco Marroquin University in Guatemala; Roberto Salinas León, vice president of Mexico’s TV Azteca (the second largest television network in Latin America); Ricardo Valenzuela, a former Mexican banker who is in the process of forming a libertarian political party in Mexico; and Venezuela’s Alberto Mansueti who has just formed “La Salida” (The Way Out) think-tank. And of course there were Enrique Ghersi, ISIL’s Rep in Peru, co-author of the famous El Otro Sendero (The Other Path) book on underground economies, and ISIL Argentina Rep Martin Krause (Dean of ESEADE grad school of business administration in Buenos Aries) – both giants in the emerging classical-liberal movement in Latin America. With such powerful intellects and high spirits – all with a passionate sense of moral purpose, one got the feeling they were sitting in on a meeting of the “Founding Fathers” of a new era …