Does free trade harm the environment?
Environmentalists argue that trade liberalization harms the environment. The decisions of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in particular have been the subject of much criticism. Carbaugh has described environmentalists' three primary assertions (Carbaugh, 2005):
1. Trade liberalization leads to a "race to the bottom" in environmental standards.
2. Trade liberalization conflicts with morally-conscious environmental policies.
3. Trade liberalization encourages trade in products that create global pollution ("pollution havens").
Proponents of trade liberalization argue that freer trade might actually improve the quality of the environment. For example, the international environmental policy of the U.S. and other industrial nations is based on the "polluter-pays principle." This approach is intended to give producers the incentive to develop more pollution-control techniques (Carbaugh, 2005).
In this group project, you will recreate and evaluate the arguments and counter-arguments for all three of the environmentalists' assertions described above.
Part 1: Recreate the arguments/counter-arguments
As a group, use the Small Group Discussion Board to recreate the arguments for and against the three assertions noted above (six arguments total). You and your group mates should each choose one of the six arguments and present the argument to the group. (If there are not exactly six members in your group, divide the work as equitably as possible.) Approach this assignment as an exercise in critical thinking; your goal is to represent a party's argument as accurately and as thoroughly as possible. For each argument and counter-argument, present the following information:
1. The party you represent
2. Your party's interests or objectives
3. Your party's assertion
4. A summary of the available evidence that supports your party's assertion and/or examples that illustrate the assertion.
Part 2: Summarize and evaluate the arguments/counter-arguments
As a group, collaborate to write a 4-5 page document in which you:
1. Summarize each argument and counter-argument. Be sure to note the relevant parties in the debate and their interests/objectives.
2. Evaluate the arguments and counter-arguments. Be sure to address the following questions:
Can the conflicting positions in these debates be resolved? If yes, how? If not, why not? Your answer should be well-reasoned and supported with examples.
The party represented in the assertion: Proponents of free trade and trade liberalization.
Party's interest and objectives: To strongly oppose the statement that free trade harm the environment and trade liberalization leads to a "race to bottom" in environmental standards. To favor and promote free trade policies between nations.
Assertion with evidences:
Free trade and trade liberalization between different countries does not leads to a "race to the bottom" in environmental standards. This statement can be supported from the fact that free trade is complemented by the economic theory of comparative advantage, which means the each country should produce those things in which they have strategic advantage over other countries. In other words, free trade enables countries to utilize their natural resources in the most efficient way, thereby contributing to optimum utilization of natural resources and prevention of wastage. Scarce natural resources like metals and minerals, petroleum oil and important natural resources like timber and wood are used in the best possible ways due to free trade policies between countries.
If there were no free trade policies and countries were not able to freely import and export, each country would have been in a situation to produce everything, thereby leading to wastage of natural resources and higher costs of production.
Free trade has not only raised environmental standards by removing wastages, but has also contributed significantly in improving the standard of living of the people. Today's generation is able to buy and enjoy best products in the world, are able to consume best food products at low prices and receive best medical treatments from around the world, which is made possible by improved collaboration and trade liberalization between countries. Improved standard of living snd living conditions have enabled people to devote more time and resources towards the environment and become more aware of the ways and procedures to prevent its degradation. For example, in Western countries, the drive to use more and more environment friendly and eco friendly products made out of bio degradable materials and boycott of plastic products is being made possible by trade liberalization only. The countries, which are not sufficient enough to produce eco friendly products, are importing it from other countries in order to maintain their environment.
Another important example in favour of free trade and trade liberalization is that it has enabled companies all around the globe to maintain similar environment friendly production standards around the globe. Technology transfers between countries have enabled countries to enforce standards like ISO: 9000 etc. Establishment of trade zones like European Union and NAFTA have also enabled ...
Does free trade harm the environment