President Bush spoke to a gathering of the American Enterprise Institute today at the Mayflower Hotel, answering questions from the AEI’s Christopher DeMuth. We appreciated this comment from the President:
I’m worried about protectionism. Protectionism tends to be the twin of isolationism. And I’m worried about protectionism because if you study the economic past, protectionism is what caused the Great Depression to be a greater depression — Smoot-Hawley tariff. If you’re interested in development and helping poor nations become less poor, then you ought to be an advocate for trade. It’s one thing to give out grants, but the amount of wealth generated by trade overwhelms the amount of money that the world gives out in grants.
Which reminds us of this recent comment by Iain Murray of the Competitive Enterprise Institute after Rep. Becerra decided not to become U.S. Trade Representative:
Not only would successful completion of the Doha round bring great benefit to the US, it would be the single best thing Obama could do for international development. The assembled economic superstars of the Copenhagen Consensus found that it would bring $17 billion worth of benefits to developing countries by 2015. However, because the benefits get bigger as those countries develop, projecting them out to the end of the century results in trillions of dollars of benefits, which will translate into such things as increased resiliency to extreme weather events, which means much less damage from global warming (if it happens). A joined-up thinker would make trade his #1 anti-global-warming strategy, if nothing else. Instead, we have a strategy aimed at making people worldwide poorer by raising energy costs.
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