Trade is good.
Everyone benefits from trade.
Even in ancient times (4000 years ago) when there was trade amongst the ancient Assyrians and Babylonians, there wasn't war.
After World War I, when trade between nations became stagnant, then did the poisonous seeds of nationalism prosper.
Can you imagine France and Germany fighting today? Maybe catapulting heads of cheese or Mercedes parts back and forth.
Even with respect to China.
From an era of no trade and mutual distrust before Nixon's opening to today where we are the world's largest trading partners.
Sure we get grumpy and flex muscles, but no one is going to upset the apple cart.
Too much at stake. Both money (first consideration) and the well-being of citizens (second consideration).
So trade is the tie that binds. Look how our relationships with Germany and Japan have healed over the years.
This is also why Russia couldn't play well with others. She didn't manufacture anything worth having except Kalashnikovs
And that was problematic anyway. She was a resource exporter and rule of law was virtually non-existent or at best whimsical.
Iran doesn't play well with others. They have trouble integrating on the playground.
We need to apologize for Mosaddegh aand they need to forgive us.
North Korea is like a pustulent abcess on the posterior part of your anatomical being.
A pain in the .....
So all of the above argues for trade. Free trade?
Well, yes, with reasonable restraints and an understanding of no cheating.
Tariffs? A country can justify a tariff or customs duty sufficient to cover administrative costs of entry.
Can a country provide unfair advantage? No.
China does this in many subtle ways like subsidized shipping costs for its exporters.
It also keeps the exchange rate from reflecting demand and the true inter-relationships amongst varying currencies.
These must not be tolerated either.
Should there be some consideration given if Country "A" uses happy,
well-paid workers and yet cannot compete
cost-wise against Country "B" that uses unpaid prison labor working eighty-hour weeks and fed rice?
Country "B" would argue that it is their "competitive advantage" versus Country "A's" good education and happy workers.
That doesn't make it right and it should be a factor.
How to impose humanitarian values and sanctions in such a case? Hard call.
In summation: Trade is Good.
When everyone makes and sells what they do best, in an ideal environment, everyone benefits.
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