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Issues in Trade and Protectionism

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November 2009, Dean Baker

There is widespread concern that the United States and the rest of the world are descending into a round of protectionism and a trade war reminiscent of what the world experienced in the Great Depression. Such concerns are both overblown and misplaced. In the short term, the main concern in the United States and rest of the world should be to promote an increase in demand through whatever means necessary. For the longer term, there has been an excessive fixation on protection for merchandise trade. Other areas, most notably alternative intellectual property regimes and freer trade in highly paid professional services, offer much larger potential gains than further reductions in barriers to trade in goods.

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