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The Current Free Trade System & the American Debate – “Where are we and what is the way forward?”

The benefits of the free trade system are enormous; it has become a constantly and frequently debated topic in recent times.

Not for much longer; among recent trending issues in the States, the US Congress has brought up the status of NAFTA into discussion. The North American Free Trade Association exempts 12 countries in the region from trade restrictions.

One of President Donald Trump’s election campaign top agenda items and priorities was the abolition of NAFTA, which had generated moments of high tension and varying arguments in the US and Canada in the past few years. It was claimed NAFTA had negative consequences on the US domestic economy. For instance, among other issues, it was claimed that sales of locally produced American dairy goods were being damaged by competing brands from Canada.

The trending debates on the Free Trade topic had tackled its advantages and disadvantages. Some had advocated against its practices, claiming that the disadvantages included unemployment, income loss through tariff exemption, increased competition for domestic industries, and negative effects on fledgling companies.

Personally, looking at the advantages and disadvantages highlighted by the two opposing schools of thought, I strongly believe that a balance should be struck between the two sides. There may be disadvantages—no doubt, there are always pros and cons to all aspects of life—however, the advantages and positive attributes and potentials associated with the free trade system should be strongly promoted and greatly publicised, while, at the same time, actively striving to drastically reduce or remove its inherent disadvantages.

A trade system with rigid restrictions and barriers may appeal to our consciousness, but the argument in favour of the abolition of free trade also has its dangers and disadvantages. A closed door to foreign goods would foster smuggling, in some cases enabling toxic substances crossing the borders and paving the way for product adulteration. In addition, the world has become a global village that fosters and promotes intense exchanges of services, goods, and ideas. Why should our doors be closed to this highly dynamic, connected, and unified world? I look forward to and passionately hope for an ideal future free trade system devoid of restrictions.


Adewole O Mayowa

Master in Marketing and Communications

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