The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
2 Points

Free Trade Should be valued above protectionism.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/6/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,030 times Debate No: 14809
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (11)
Votes (2)




I affirm the resolution Resolved: Free trade should be valued above protectionism.
For clarification in todays round I will define the following terms.
From Margaret O' Leary, professor of business at Benedictine Univirsity. 2007
http://www.semplus... dictionary.php
Free trade: A theoretical concept that refers to international trade unhampered by government restrictions or tariffs.
From World Bank, Beyond Economic Growth, 2004
Protectionism: The imposition of import quotas, or other barriers that restrict the flow of imports. The opposite of "free trade."
From Encarta Dictionary online
Should: expresses desirability or rightness
The highest value in today's round will be that of Safety which can be defined as the quality of averting or not causing injury, danger, or loss according to ( . Safety is most valuable in todays debate because the goal of any nation is to protect its self and its citizens both economically and physically.
The criterion for achieving safety must be Minimizing Threats to the Environment. By Minimizing threats to the environment air quality, water quality, economic stability, and overall safety are increased. Especially over the past couple of years, environmental awareness has come into effect and Americans have seen the scientific data that shows just how threatening pollution is to mankind's safety.
Contention One: Free trade minimizes threats to the environment.
As being a citizen of the United States I know that there are strict laws against pollution from major corporations such as energy companies, car companies and manufacturing plants. These laws and restrictions prevent companies from letting their greenhouse gas emissions reach a certain amount and prevent them from ignoring the environment.
Sub point A: Poverty is a major cause of environmental destruction
Unfortunately not every nation can afford to protect the environment in the ways that the United States does.
According to John A. Charles at Cascade Policy Institute
"A recent report by the World Trade Organization reinforces these points. The report concludes: One reason why environmental protection is lagging in many countries is low incomes. Countries that live on the margin may simply not be able to afford to set aside resources for pollution abatement… If poverty is at the core of the problem, economic growth will be part of the solution to the extent that it allows countries to shift gears from more immediate concerns to long run sustainability issues."
These countries don't have the money to protect the environment and they don't have the technology to know they are destroying the environment. Not to mention the growing population of these countries is polluting large amounts water and land because of human waste.
Sub Point B: Free trade offers the superior solution to poverty
From Daniel Griswold at Cato Institute.
"How do we expect hundreds of millions of people to pull themselves out of poverty if we do not allow them access to global Markets? It is morally and economically incoherent to denounce global poverty and sweatshops one moment and to denounce imports from and foreign investment to the very same countries where the poor people actually live."
We cannot continue to let countries limit trade like they do if we want any sort of future for ourselves and our children.
From Douglas Irwin, Dartmouth College.
"Countries that restricted foreign trade and investment may have avoided foreign exploitation, but remained desperately poor nonetheless. Meanwhile, international trade created opportunities that in fact promoted development and reduced poverty. Many countries that encourage trade did not remain stuck producing just raw materials, but began exporting an increasing array of labor-intensive manufactured goods."
If these countries opened their trade to all nations and allowed foreign exploitation, it would actually benefit these countries economically and allow them to stand up on their feet and start to contribute large quantities of money to environmental protection, which leads to my next point.
Sub Point C: Environmental Threats are best addressed through poverty reduction
From Bjorn Lomborg, political science, University of Aarhus, Denmark.
"We have grown to believe that we are faced with an inescapable choice between higher economic welfare and a greener environment. But, Surprisingly…environmental development ofter stems from economic development—only when we get sufficiently rich can we afford the relative luxury of caring about the environment"
The priority of the rich is to secure their future and the main threat to their future is the destruction of the environment. This is why people with little economic worries would help the poor by allowing free trade.
Contention Two: Protectionism is ineffective at minimizing environmental threats.
When Protectionism prevents certain types of trade and makes other types of trade more expensive, countries become self reliant and turn to themselves to fix environmental issues that might not even be caused by them.
Sub Point A: Protectionist measures undermine environmental protection
From Daniella Markheim, at the Heritage Foundation.
"The gains from trade include economic growth and rising incomes in all countries. From developing countries—which would likely be hardest hit by trade restrictions in climate legislation—the economic stress will be particularly great. This, Perversely, will likely increase the harm done to the environment: Economic growth increases the ability for developing countries to afford protecting the environment."
Sub Point B: Government action is too easily influenced by industry lobbying
From Fred Smith, President of Competitive enterprise Institute.
"That markets fail does not mean that governments will succeed. Governments, after all, are susceptible to special interest pleadings. A complex political process often provides fertile ground for economic and ideological groups to advance their agendas at the public expense. The U.S tolerance of high sulfur coal and the massive subsidies for heavily polluting alternative fuels are evidence of this problem. Moreover, governments lack any means of acquiring the detailed information dispersed throughout tike economy essential to efficiency and technological change."
When governments are influenced by the companies that the rules are made for, those companies are the first priority when it comes to making those rules.

Free Trade is the key to minimizing environmental threats, and by doing so safety is achieved.


I will demonstrate that free trade should not be valued above protectionism throughout this debate. I wish my opponent the best of luck. May the best debater win!

To avoid confusion, I will begin by defining the following terms:

"The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)" – An agreement which removed most trade barriers between the United States, Canada, and Mexico

"The North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC)" – A side-treaty of the North American Free Trade Agreement which concerns environmental issues

"Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC)" – A commission which implements The North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation

"The National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI)" – An agency of the Mexican government which gathers statistical information about the country

"The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)" – An international organization of 34 countries focused on economic and social issues.

The Environmental Impacts of Free Trade Versus Protectionism:

Despite my opponent's contentions, free trade does not necessarily lead to better environmental conditions.

For instance, consider the implications of The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Some experts predicted that rising income levels would result in additional monetary funds dedicated to environmental protection. However, these projections generally did not materialize, especially in Mexico. According to an investigation conducted by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), "Scant empirical evidence supports the hypothesis that, in the near term, increased incomes associated with trade liberalization correlate with increased resources for environmental authorities or improved policies to ensure sustainable use of resources" (1).

Given this piece of information, it's not surprising that environmental conditions have worsened greatly in Mexico. After NAFTA went into affect, rural soil erosion grew by 89%, municipal solid waste by 108%, water pollution by 29%, and urban air pollution by 97% (2). Several studies estimate the financial costs of this environmental degradation at 10% of Mexico's gross domestic product (GDP) (3).

This environmental damage is mainly due to the scale effect. Many industries harm the environment through the release of pollution. Increasing the scale of economic activity results in additional environmental degradation. For example, one study found that NAFTA led to significant increases in pollution from several prominent North American industries (4).

Proponents of free trade argue that the scale effect has been offset by increasing efficiency and technological improvements. However, with a few exceptions, this has not been the case. Consider the following examples.

Studies show that transportation has intensified due to NAFTA. However, local infrastructure improvements have not kept pace with these changes. "This has resulted in truck transport congestion at borders and related engine idling, adding to the pollution. Border communities have also been affected by added noise pollution and other environmental pressures" (1).

Among commercial farmers in Mexico, "Patterns of crop type specialization and significant technological improvements have led to some declines in fertilizer use, but they have been offset by growth in fertilizer use associated with growing agricultural output" (5).

In another example, energy consumption per ton of cement produced in the US increased between roughly 6% and 8% (1).

Clearly, the environmental effects of NAFTA have primarily been negative. NAFTA's failure most likely results from inadequate environmental provisions (1-3). The Mexican Government's inability to mediate environmental affects associated with its growth may also have contributed to NAFTA's shortcomings. One researcher concluded as follows:

"In the lead-up to NAFTA, Mexico doubled spending on environmental protection and started a much-needed industrial environmental inspection program. However, shortly after NAFTA was signed and fiscal and financial woes set in, attention to the environment nose-dived. According to INEGI, since 1994 real spending on environmental protection declined by the equivalent of $200 million, or 45%. Even at their highest levels, allocations for environmental protection were low in comparison to Mexico's counterparts in the OECD; as a percentage of GDP, they were only one-fifth that of other OECD nations. Tellingly, the number of industrial environmental inspections has also decreased by 45% over the same period" (2).


Free trade should not be favored over protectionism. A balance of both policies is necessary. If a certain government habitually fails to protect the environment and its citizens, we should embargo goods produced there. Additionally, when liberalizing trade, we must proceed in a cautious manner. There are several factors to consider, and hastily signing agreements will have devastating consequences. A country should avoid signing a free trade agreement unless the following conditions are met:

Policies have been established to mitigate environmental problems and enhance environmental benefits. These policies should include independent assessments of each country's environmental impacts. Tariffs should be imposed if a government's actions were found to have unjustifiably harmed the environment. Revenue generated from these tariffs could be used to clean up pollution, implement stricter regulations, etc. If tariffs fail to achieve the desired effect, then an embargo should be implemented.

Incentives are provided for companies who invest in more efficient technologies. (As I have demonstrated previously, "NAFTA has no effect on the rate of technology diffusion" (1). Yet, large technological advances are necessary to offset environmental pollution associated with economic growth.)

Policies have been established to ensure collaboration between the appropriate trade organizations.

I believe that the US should have refrained from signing the North American Free Trade Agreement, as none of the above conditions were met.

I look forward to continued debate on this topic.


[1] Carpentier, C. L. NAFTA Commission for Environmental Cooperation: Ongoing Assessment of Trade Liberalization in North America. Beech Tree Publishing, 1 Dec. 2006. Web. 7 June 2011.

[2] Gallagher, K. P. "Mexico, NAFTA, and Beyond." Interhemispheric Resource Center, 17 Sept. 2004. Web. 7 June 2011.

[3] Zepeda, E., T. A. Wise, and K. P. Gallagher. "Rethinking Trade Policy for Development: Lessons From Mexico Under NAFTA." 2009. Web. 7 June 2011.

[4] Reinert, K. A., and D. W. Roland-Holst. "The Industrial Pollution Impacts of NAFTA:Some Preliminary Results." Commission for Environmental Cooperation, Nov. 2000. Web. 7 June 2011.,16

[5] Vilas-Ghiso, S. J., and D. M. Liverman. "Scale, Technique and Composition Effects in the Mexican Agricultural Sector: the Influence of NAFTA and the Institutional Environment." 16 Mar. 2007. Web. 7 June 2011.
Debate Round No. 1


MasterDebater33 forfeited this round.


QT forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


MasterDebater33 forfeited this round.


I encourage everyone to vote con, as I've provided facts and statistics to support my arguments!
Debate Round No. 3
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by QT 5 years ago
My schedule has been very busy lately. I didn't have enough time to post my argument for round two.
Posted by QT 5 years ago
I will post my argument some time tonight. =)
Posted by CrzyDrumlineChic 5 years ago
I would debate it, however I do not do LD and really don't understand the structure of it. Plus I'm bad with philosophy. I do Policy(:
Posted by Cobo 5 years ago
Increase the time to post agruements though.
12 HOURS? Seriously? Bump it to 48 and I'll be good.
Posted by Cobo 5 years ago
Screw it I want it.
Posted by Cobo 5 years ago
hmm. I'm thinking about taking this. But I'll wait.
I debate if not taken.
Posted by confuzzled_redhead 5 years ago
I'm pretty sure that anyone would be able to "kill" your case since it is completely NON-RESOLUTIONAL therefore your entire case falls...congratulations to me, I just won...
Posted by MasterDebater33 5 years ago
yes it is CrzyDrumlineChic. If you say you can beat me in a debate over this topic, bring it on. this is my secondary case for uil district. come on "kill" it.
Posted by Cobo 5 years ago
Dude, I would kill at this.
But my case is great just needs more stucture.
But it's wayy better than this foresics file case.
Posted by Cobo 5 years ago
Yep Stupid UIL.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by BangBang-Coconut 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: After debating this all semester, I knew this would be a tough read, luckily Pro forfeited twice.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:01 
Reasons for voting decision: No response by Pro to first rebuttal.