Doug Irwin on US Trade Policy (BONUS)

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Mercatus Center
Dec 1, 2017 · 44 min read

“The case for free trade has never been the case for laissez-faire. There may be cases for intervention, either overuse of certain tourist sites or you need a certain industry or sector for national security.

These don’t necessitate an intervention in trade. You don’t need tariffs, quotas, export subsidies, things of that sort. There are other domestic policies that can more efficiently and more directly address the situation you’re trying to deal with.”

“This is a question that economists raised after World War II, as well. “Can we really integrate the Communists and the non-Communist worlds in a trading system?” Turns out the answer was no.”

“I spoke to one trade negotiator about this once. They said NAFTA is not a good trade agreement. NAFTA is an effing great trade agreement. And I agree.”

“COWEN: There’s USTR. There’s the State Department. There’s the Department of Commerce. There’s OPIC. There’s a lot of different layers at which we address trade. Should we just consolidate those into a big, supposedly consistent Department of Trade? Or do you prefer the sprawling mess?

IRWIN: I prefer the sprawling mess.”

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Mercatus Center

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The Mercatus Center at George Mason University is the world’s premier university source for market-oriented ideas.

Conversations with Tyler

A podcast in which esteemed economist Tyler Cowen engages with today's most underrated thinkers in wide-ranging explorations of their work, the world, and everything in between.