The Hill

Handel. Viktigt för hälsan.

Frihandeln ger bättre folkhälsa

Frihandel förbättrar folkhälsan i de länder som ingår i frihandeln. Tidskriften The Hill skriver om en rapport från The Geneva Network, en think tank som arbetar med handel, utvecklingsfrågor och hälsopolitik.  Rapporten visar att folkhälsan påverkas p...

Frihandeln ger bättre folkhälsa

Frihandel förbättrar folkhälsan i de länder som ingår i frihandeln. Tidskriften The Hill skriver om en rapport från The Geneva Network, en think tank som arbetar med handel, utvecklingsfrågor och hälsopolitik.  Rapporten visar att folkhälsan påverkas positivt av frihandel.

”North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiators met in Mexico City recently, hoping to keep alive a deal that has set the terms for trade between Canada, Mexico and the United States since the mid 1990s.

Opponents of free trade will be praying for failure. For them, NAFTA is not only the economic enemy of working people, but also damaging to their health.

An internal memo circulated in October by White House National Trade Council Director Peter Navarro blamed manufacturing decline — and by extension NAFTA — for a catalogue of health problems, from rises in infertility to more early deaths.

Navarro’s broadside follows decades of argument by academics that free trade damages health by promoting economic insecurity and inequality, worsening pollution and even by making unhealthy foods more available.

This is seductive but misguided. In reality, the end of NAFTA and a reduction in free trade would do real damage to health.

Most opponents of NAFTA focus on localised negative impacts, but few look at the bigger picture. Notably, there is a new and growing economic literature looking at the relationship between free trade and health. There is near consensus that fewer trade barriers means healthier populations.

While all countries become healthier from an increased openness to trade, most studies find the benefits to be even greater for lower-income countries.

(—)

(But) the impact of free trade on health goes beyond increased economic growth. The opening of international borders since the Second World War has been instrumental in disseminating health-related technologies.

Drugs, vaccines and medical devices are now available in all corners of the world, often for no more than a few cents — a remarkable achievement. While trade will obviously continue in the absence of NAFTA, new barriers could disrupt their flow across North America.

Pre-NAFTA, Mexico imposed tariffs of up to 15 percent on medicines imported from the United States and Canada. Thanks to NAFTA, these tariffs were abolished, removing a regressive tax on the sick. A more competitive Mexico has allowed its pharmaceutical industry to emerge as a regional leader, with many Americans depending on its cheap, high-quality generic medicines.

With NAFTA gone, Mexico could well reinstate the 15-percent tariff, still applied to medicine imports from outside the bloc, raising the price of newer medicines imported from the United States. Mexico is grappling with new health challenges that come with a longer living population, such as increasing rates of cancer.

Further health complications would come from disruption to the medical device industry. Under NAFTA, the industry has developed an international supply chain responsible for driving down the price of everything from pacemakers to knee pins.”

Poängen är relativt enkel.

För det första blir hälsan bättre när det ekonomiska välståndet ökar så mat, vatten, avlopp och miljö förbättras. Och för det andra blir mer och billigare medicin och medicinsk teknik tillgänglig för fler genom arbetsdelning och specialisering.

Föreställningen om att frihandel hotar folkhälsan bygger på att stillar sig blind på vissa detaljer, ofta missförstådda, kring konsumentskydd, kemikalier, genetiskt modifierade organismer och liknande.

Men den stora bilden är entydig. Frihandel förbättrar folkhälsan.

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3 % Andelen personbilar av svensk export

Frihandel i media vecka 43

Den här veckan har dominerats av NAFTA-förhandlingarna. Här följer ett antal klipp från internationell press: Bloomberg: "Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland criticized a one-sided strategy in Nafta negotiations after U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilb...

Frihandel i media vecka 43

Den här veckan har dominerats av NAFTA-förhandlingarna. Här följer ett antal klipp från internationell press:

Bloomberg:

”Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland criticized a one-sided strategy in Nafta negotiations after U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said he wasn’t prepared to make concessions to reach a deal.

“A negotiation where a one party takes a winner-takes-all approach is a negotiation that may find some difficulties in reaching a conclusion,” Freeland said Thursday during a press conference in Toronto, without specifying which party she was referring to. She later added Canada understands the value of opening new export markets in China and elsewhere. “Perhaps now we understand it more urgently than ever.”

(—)

Ildefonso Guajardo, Mexico’s economy minister and lead Nafta negotiator, told reporters on Sunday his country has some margin to compromise with the U.S. on Nafta, without specifying in which areas. The government will be analyzing that issue between now and the next round of talks, scheduled for Mexico City from Nov. 17-21.

The previous round wrapped up this month with ministers trading barbs amid five key impasses on dairyautomotive content, dispute panels, government procurement and a sunset clause. Mexico and Canada are effectively dismissing U.S. proposals on all five.”

Observer:

”In an interview on Fox New’s Lou Dobbs Tonight on Wednesday, President Donald Trump elaborated on his initiative to end the North American Free Trade Agreement, stating that he believed terminating the agreement is the only way to ensure a fair deal for the United States.

A common argument against NAFTA is that it lowers the demand for American manufacturing jobs because Mexican labor is cheaper.

“We’ve been very tough, and we’re being very fair, but we have to get back a lot,” Trump said in his interview with Lou Dobbs. “What’s happened to this country with NAFTA is unbelievable; the jobs that have been taken, the factories that are moving out of Michigan, out of Ohio, out of Pennsylvania, out of our states is incredible.””

The Hill:

”President Trump is holding fast to his threats to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to gain leverage in the contentious negotiations.

Trump repeated his threat, which he presented as a negotiating strategy, during his private lunch with Republican senators on Tuesday.

He told the senators that the United States may need to start the six-month withdrawal process to reach a better agreement with Canada and Mexico. Trump has previously suggested that this threat of withdrawal could lead to concessions by the trading partners.

(—)

Bill Reinsch, a trade expert with the Stimson Center, said Thursday at a Cato Institute trade event that at this stage one of the most likely scenarios is that the three countries get into a stare down over the deal and none are willing to either agree or pull the trigger to pull out of the agreement.

The process is murky regarding how Trump could withdraw from the deal.

Trump could start the clock ticking but Congress would likely flex its muscle about its role in any final decision. But there are no hard and fast rules about how that would work.

The next round of talks are next month in Mexico City. Negotiations will continue into 2018.

The discussions have at least one built-in political deadline: Mexico’s presidential elections on July 1.”

Robert Samuelson i Washington Post:

”The NAFTA war is heating up. It’s a confusing conflict because perceptions are driven by political rhetoric, not economic reality.

NAFTA, of course, stands for the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has eliminated most tariffs among the United States, Mexico and Canada. During the campaign, candidate Donald Trump denounced NAFTA as a bad deal for the United States. He vowed to improve or scrap it. The trouble is that NAFTA actually isn’t a bad deal for the United States.

Consider. Canada and Mexico are the first- and second-largest markets for U.S. exports. In 2015, these exports — counting both goods (such as computers) and services (such as tourism) — amounted to $600 billion. That’s more than a quarter of total U.S. exports and almost four times U.S. exports to China.

Why would we want to attack our best foreign markets? But what about the massive trade deficit with Mexico? On inspection, it turns out not to be so large.

It’s true that Mexico had a $63 billion surplus in goods traded with us in 2016. But it also runs a deficit with the United States in services. Likewise, Canada runs a slight overall deficit with us in goods and services. Counting these trade flows, the United States runs about a $50 billion deficit with the two countries on total trade of $1.2 trillion. The U.S. deficit roughly equals 4 percent of NAFTA trade.

It’s a good deal for us and our partners. We all get more consumer choice. We all get more competition, which holds down prices. Jobs are created in all the countries. To be sure, some American jobs are lost, as factories move to Mexico. This is hard on the displaced workers, but so is competition that eliminates American jobs for other American jobs. Overall, benefits exceed costs.”

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Free trade consists simply in letting people buy and sell as they want to buy and sell. It is protection that requires force, for it consists in preventing people from doing what they want to do.
Henry George