2. Is it ethical for the United States to dispute China’s protectionist policies while itself spending years defending subsidies for a well-developed U.S. industry? Explain.
Even if all could agree that as a whole the world would be better off if all national trade restrictions were ended, it does not follow that all countries or that all persons would be better off, certainly not in the short run. International trade has never been free of national barriers in modern times. WTO negotiations start with existing historical protections and member countries agree not to increase barriers and commit to participating in multilateral trade negotiations with the goal of lessening restrictions over time. New countries are admitted to the WTO only after sometimes prolonged negotiations with existing members over modifications of their existing trade-related barriers deemed necessary before they can be admitted. Every country has companies and industries that benefit directly from existing barriers, businesses whose profits rely on, and sometimes depend on, protection. Each of these businesses in turn have employees, suppliers, and communities that indirectly benefit from those protections. Thus, any change in a nation’s trade policies will have a negative effect on some segment of its economy, even if it can be demonstrated that a change would produce a positive effect on the total economy.