Monday, December 01, 2003

It's interesting how Bush's free-trade position, his steel tariffs, the WTO appeal and finally the repeal of said tariffs, may all have contributed to strengthen the idea of WTO-moderated free trade. The blog postings have been unanimously positive about the repeal (exhibits A, B, C, D). The obvious lessons to draw from the sequence of events are:
  • The WTO can act quickly (15 months, I think) in its rulings

  • The rules are effective, if even Bush must cave

  • The rules are principled, because Bush's argument for the steel tariffs was based on convenience. The excuse for the tariffs was that they were only temporary. When you argue for such a weak exception to a rule, that can reinforce the principle beind the rule.

If Bush had never put the temporary tariffs in place, there wouldn't have been this clear an opportunity for the WTO to strengthen its hand.

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