How trade is one our greatest tools in the fight against poverty

Donald Trump laid out his economic plan in a speech in Detroit this week, focusing on cutting taxes and simplifying the American tax code. But it was his plan to impose steep tariffs on China that caught one economist’s ear.

Anne Bradley says America’s leaders should be very careful when they start limiting trade.

“I get concerned when I hear candidates on either side of the aisle talking about limiting trade, using protectionist policies such as tariffs, who we would trade with, or putting penalties on that. It means we’re going to have to rely only on ourselves to do the things we need, and that is expensive.”

Bradley’s research has found that trade is one of the strongest weapons in the fight against poverty.

“If you look at human history since about 1 A.D., most humans had lived on less than $100 a year. Then the industrial revolution happened and we start to see people breaking the cycle of poverty in unprecedented ways. As our productivity increases, and our population increases faster than our consumption, we can rely on others provide for our needs.”

“Fifty years ago, more than 50% of the planet lived in abject poverty (less than $2 a day). Today, about 12% of people live in abject poverty. The World Bank predicts that by 2030, that number will fall to 3%. It’s incredible and it happened when people were able to go to grocery stores to buy food instead of having to farm for themselves.”

From a biblical perspective, Bradley sees trade policy as a stewardship issue.

“We are created uniquely and diversely, but we are limited; we can’t do everything we need on our own. So we were made to come together. That doesn’t just mean in our towns, our communities, it means everywhere across the globe. Free trade means we are able to do more with less, so it is really a stewardship issue. Over the past few hundred years,  free trade has really elevated the globe in wealth creation, and we want to be very careful about when we would restrict trade.”

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