Friday, August 15, 2008

Free Trade Helps Win the Tolerance War?

You know how sometimes you have a really good idea and then you read about that idea in the newspaper? Me neither. Heh.

Actually, Edward Gresser and Mark Dunkelman at the Wall Street Journal borrow one of my better brain-waves about free trade helping fight terror.

The idea I had was this: since our massive military aid packages to Pakistan and Egypt, to name but two countries, have not exactly made us beloved, why not try free trade accords with those countries? We have already done so with Jordan, but I am not aware of any other such accords with Arab and/or Muslim countries.

Gresser and Dunkelman argue along the same lines:
Towels, for example, are Pakistan's top export. Each container full of towels exported to the U.S. brings in enough income to employ about 500 Pakistanis. But while Pakistani towels are subject to a 7.5% tariff, competing towels from the Dominican Republic or Costa Rica -- both of which benefit from the Central American Free Trade Agreement -- come in duty-free.

Likewise, luggage made in Indonesia is subject to a tariff that can rise to 22%, but competes with tariff-free suitcases manufactured in Mexico. Lebanon, which exports preserved fruits and vegetables, must compete with similar duty-free items exported from Peru.
Unlike Senator Obama, I am for free trade along with Senator McCain. We have already made great gains in securing economic and political stability in Central America and Peru with the CAFTA and Peru free trade accords, respectively, and we should do the same with the Muslim world.

So who do you think we should begin with, if you agree with the sentiments expressed here? I nominate: Afghanistan and Pakistan (together, as a package deal), Egypt, Iraq and Indonesia. Seems like a good beginning to me.

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