Evolution Of Free Trade Agreements
Businesses need to plan their supply chains to ensure they enjoy the benefits of a new trade agreement. Trade agreements also involve new markets, i.e. small and medium-sized enterprises have the opportunity to become international suppliers and suddenly view commitments as exporters. From the 1930s to the 1980s, the fundamental political divide of the United States in trade was economic. Workers and businesses threatened by commercial competition supported the increase in trade barriers; Those who saw gains wanted to reduce them. The former, faced with losses, being more politically active, U.S. negotiators had to look for “trade winners” (exporters, international investors) and engage them politically. They also used broader arguments by citing economists` estimates of the overall benefits of trade and highlighting international political gains. And they have repeatedly warned against the “slippery slope” of protectionism.
On the whole, free trade advocates have prevailed, although there have been periods (such as the 1980s) when heavy imports posed a serious protectionist threat. The doctrine of mercantilism dominated the trade policy of the great European powers for most of the 16th century until the end of the 18th century. According to the mercantilists, the main objective of trade was to achieve a “favourable” trade balance that would allow the value of its own exports to exceed the value of their own imports. Given that European regionalisation has been able to launch many other regional trade agreements in Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America, it has also helped to advance the GATT agenda, with other countries seeking further tariff reductions to compete with the preferential trade that the European partnership has produced. Thus, regionalism has not necessarily increased at the expense of multilateralism, but in conjunction with it. The advance towards regionalism was probably due to the growing needs of countries to go beyond the GATT provisions at a much faster rate. “New Democrats” like President Clinton (and then President Obama) have always viewed trade as a positive game and noted its role, for example, in supporting the United States.