Despite the passage of NAFTA and other recent free trade victories
in the United States, former U.S. trade official Alfred Eckes warns
that these developments have a dark side. Opening America's
offers a bold critique of U.S. trade policies over the
last sixty years, placing them within a historical perspective.
Eckes reconsiders trade policy issues and events from Benjamin
Franklin to Bill Clinton, attributing growing political unrest and
economic insecurity in the 1990s to shortsighted policy decisions
made in the generation after World War II. Eager to win the Cold
War and promote the benefits of free trade, American officials
generously opened the domestic market to imports but tolerated
foreign discrimination against American goods. American consumers
and corporations gained in the resulting global economy, but many
low-skilled workers have become casualties.
Eckes also challenges criticisms of the 'infamous' protectionist
Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, which allegedly worsened the Great
Depression and provoked foreign retaliation. In trade history, he
says, this episode was merely a mole hill, not a mountain.