From Adam Smith to John Maynard Keynes economists have argued for free trade, and the innovative power of capitalism, to improve living standards and prosperity. Many governments support the rhetoric. But it is not the reality. Almost all countries still impose widespread tariffs and some argue the very purpose of blocks like the EU is to maintain barriers and tariffs to those outside the free trade area.
Should we give up the rhetoric or change the reality? Are free trade and innovation not the capitalist panacea and do we need to limit change to protect the people? Or would global free trade enable developing economies to thrive, create higher living standards for everyone, and unleash the power of innovation for all to benefit?
Former Conservative party leader Michael Howard, environmental activist and author of Oneness vs the 1% Vandana Shiva, Johns Hopkins economist Pravin Krishna debate the importance of global free trade.