News Flash: Free Trade Works!

Some of you might remember the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the ending of textile quotas last January, allowing (theoretically) unrestricted trade in textiles. Great was the horror of the whining classes, and they trotted out stories predicting that China would swamp not only domestic textile producers, but also producers in such impoverished countries as Bangladesh or Sri Lanka (to which I responded with a dismissive post that was cold-blooded even by my standards).

Well, surprise. Today's print Wall Street Journal is reporting the growth in exports from several countries in their article, "Asian Textile Makers Adapt to End of Global Quotas." In the first five months of the new regime, growth numbers were as follows:

China: 86%
Bangladesh: 25%
Sri Lanka: 20%
Cambodia: 17%

No mention of Indonesia, though. But regardless, the smaller countries are successfully expanding in the face of cheap Chinese goods by, gasp, exploiting comparative advantages and niche markets! Paging Dr. Ricardo...

Yet again, free trade has helped the worst off, in spite of all the dire predictions to the contrary. There are valid reasons to oppose free trade, but fear of injuring the poor is not one of them.

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