The case for free trade – no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’

By Julian Jessop

From 1990 to 2010, free trade helped a billion people lift themselves out of extreme poverty. But the pace of liberalisation has since slowed and protectionism is back in fashion. Fortunately, Brexit provides a golden opportunity for the UK to become a global champion of free trade again. This is potentially a win-win both for the UK and for the rest of the world. Admittedly, it won’t be easy. Powerful lobbies protect the interests of the few who might lose out from a further reduction in trade barriers, rather than the many who would gain. The voices of consumers are rarely heard. Even the economics commentariat is susceptible to fits of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’. This briefing addresses some of the main doubts. Further explanation of any of the points is available on request.

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