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The Forum > Article Comments > Indo-ASEAN free trade agreement and beyond > Comments

Indo-ASEAN free trade agreement and beyond : Comments

By Rupakjyoti Borah, published 29/9/2009

A closer partnership between India and ASEAN will be a win-win situation for both the parties.

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Good article and yes, it's great to see this greater freedom and co-operation among people who are the most obvious trading partners, and should have been freely trading with each other all along.

However Rupakjyoti slips back into the language of protectionism in saying that the Indian government exempted itself from free trade in various sectors to "protect its interests".

According to this point of view, free trade *damages* the interests of those who participate in it. If we follow the protectionist line of reasoning, since free trade tends to make India poorer, therefore why have any free trade at all?

Not only that, if trade between India and foreign countries makes India poorer, then for the same reason trade between the states of India would make their inhabitants poorer. Reduced to its absurdity, we would all be better off if we avoided social co-operation and worked in isolation.

The reason why this hostility to free trade results in greater poverty, is because, despite its name, socialism is fundamentally anti-social.

It is sad to see India's history since independence marked by such unnecessary poverty at the same time as the misguided hostility to freedom and trade that directly caused it.

While these developments towards more free trade are great, not just for India and ASEAN but for everyone else in the world, it is a pity that we continue to tolerate the idea that "free trade" is something that government needs to engineer. All that is necessary for free trade to happen is for governments to get out of the way, that is all.

No socialist or nationalist ever claimed that their policies would impoverish the population: on the contrary. However we need to recognise that that is exactly what they did.

We should urge for, and look forward to the day when real free trade comes to the people of the world; and the anti-social fallacies of protectionism, nationalism and socialism are consigned to the dustbin of history where they belong.
Posted by Jefferson, Thursday, 1 October 2009 9:10:41 AM
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