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The Contender
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Free Trade is Better for the General Population Than an Overly Protectionist System

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/7/2018 Category: Economics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 509 times Debate No: 106472
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Hello! I would like to start this debate in part because my economics are a little rusty, and I miss hearing protectionist arguments. Here, I would like to contend that a free trade system, or at least one with a heavy emphasis on free trade deals like NAFTA, provide great economic benefits to their citizens that outweigh any potential negative trade-offs. We will assume that the population being discussed lives in the 21st century, in a society which does have some social benefits (welfare) and not one 100 or 150 years ago that operated under laissez-faire. I would also like to imply that this nation is in the first world and is not a developing one, but I shall permit my opponent to challenge that claim, because this discussion/debate becomes particularly interesting when it concerns not America or Europe, but instead Africa, Indochina, or perhaps Latin America.

My only guidelines are as follows: please be courteous, don't be a troll, and it would be really nice if you could provide sources to back up your argument. I have included four rounds: the first for acceptance and general opening statements, the second for presenting in-depth claims and arguments, the third for rebuttals, refutations, clarifications and additional elaborations and the fourth for closing statements.

This isn't meant to be particularly formal or serious; I'm just looking for a good, thought provoking conversation.


Hello, I will be debating this topic with you. I am taking the position that true "free trade" isn't ideal in today's society. Firstly some preliminary qualms: I have an issue with the topic of the debate: "Overly Protectionist System", you must remember the definition of "free trade" is "international trade left to its natural course without tariffs, quotas, or other restrictions". This means that even a single small tariff would classify the trade as not "free". Is that overly protectionist?
Also, despite NAFTA's naming, it has numerous restrictions and regulations (NAAEC and NAALC for example).

My initial argument will not be one based on strict economic principles since many economic schools of thought support heavy outsourcing, rather a mixture of economic, social, and ethical arguments.

1. Most 3rd world countries are able to beat out 1st world companies when it comes to manufacturing due to having no obligation to pay their workers a decent wage or benefits. Conditional tariffs are necessary to ensure companies are incentivized to raise wages and worker treatment. Companies that treat their employees humanely receive reduced tariffs.

2. 3rd world companies have very little environmental regulations and oversight. Similarly to employee compensation, companies overseas pay significantly less in operating costs with little environmental regulation. This makes 1st world companies significantly less competitive. As stated above, NAAEC built into NAFTA aims to improve environmental conditions, however it is not considered "free trade".

3. The United States' increasing focus on services and tech creates a chasm for low-skilled blue collar workers. The removal of 5 million manufacturing jobs between 2000-2014 due to outsourcing causes a strain on our welfare system and increases homelessness.

4. Tariffs on trade are the equivalent of slotting fees at grocery stores. We should absolutely charge companies to sell their products manufactured elsewhere here. Tariffs should be decreased as a country abides by human rights and environmental regulations to level the playing field and make the United States competitive again, while increasing the quality of life for those working in manufacturing jobs overseas.
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