Cross-border free trade is nothing special. The principles are the same whether I am trading in Pacific Grove with someone from nearby Monterey or someone in Mexico, Myanmar or Morocco. Free trade both within a country and across international borders is what has led to our enormous standard of living. If that doesn’t seem obvious, think about how you would live if you could never trade. You could never buy lumber, food, clothing, pharmaceuticals, or computers, and furthermore, you could never buy the inputs that are used to make these things. In such a situation, many of us would starve.
In the United States, we are lucky. Before the formation of the European Union, we were the largest free trade area in the world. With over 330 million people with a wide range of skills, with plenty of capital goods, and with fairly decent mineral resources, we have to engage in less international trade than people in other countries. So if we couldn’t trade across borders, we would be worse off, but not as badly off as, say, Canadians if they couldn’t trade.
Yet international trade improves us considerably. We can get coffee from Columbia instead of buying the limited supplies Hawaii has to offer and building expensive greenhouses in the lower forty-eight. We can get bananas from Central America rather than building greenhouses to grow them domestically. And how would we get rubber for our tires?
This is from David R. Henderson,”Globalization and its dissatisfactions“, define ideas, March 2, 2023.
Read it the totality.