February 20th, 2014
07:21 AM ET

Time to put trade above politics

By Fareed Zakaria

We live in a world without war or even significant conflict among the major powers. We also live in an age of economic growth. All of this seems normal, but in fact, it isn't. The current global system of commerce and collaboration instead of war and competition is historically rare. Will it last?

The answer depends largely on Asia, which within 10 years will be home to three of the world's four largest economies. There are two possible scenarios. The first is that Asian countries will embrace the open, rule-based free-trade system in place today and deepen it. The second is that as these countries grow rich, they will become more nationalist, focus on narrow interests, pursue mercantilism and thus erode if not destroy what some in those countries describe as the "Western international order."

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soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. JAL

    Well said...

    February 20, 2014 at 9:17 am | Reply
  2. Put Politics above Trade

    Trade without the right compass is not beneficial, but may be even disadvantages. Trade is not costs-free and may have negative impact if not done with the right orientation. We need think in: business zones, partnerships, alliances!

    February 22, 2014 at 1:37 pm | Reply
  3. j. von hettlingen

    Indeed, Obama has huge ambitions. He wants the US to strenthen trade ties with Europe and Asia. While European leaders are anxious to push forward the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to remove regulatory and other barriers between the EU and the USA", despite the mistrust caused by the NSA snooping activities in Europe, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) seems to get nowhere.

    February 23, 2014 at 7:15 am | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      Asia has become the growth engine of the world and the creation of TPP – a multilateral free trade pact focused on the Pacific and Oceania, aims to offer opportunities in the vast proposed free-trade area. Obama has been active to garner support for his project and countries around the Pacific Rim hope that he would be able to provide leadership.

      February 23, 2014 at 7:16 am | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      Despite opportunities, there are people both in the US and the Pacific region, who are angry about the prospect of forging the TPP. They all feel that once tariffs are removed completely all kinds of products will flood into their countries.

      February 23, 2014 at 7:18 am | Reply
      • j. von hettlingen

        They and their lobbyists make sure that their interests be defended. In a tug of war between national interest and special interests, rationality doesn't always prevail.

        February 23, 2014 at 7:20 am |
  4. No Asia: no China, no S.Korea, ...

    Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership TTIP, NATO, EU, NAFTA, Australia, Africa are the right way for USA – no Asia. Asian Corporations are stronger, bigger than US Corporations – meaning Americans cannot compete there! Forget about Asia – there is no business for USA.

    February 24, 2014 at 5:48 am | Reply

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