Thursday, August 03, 2006

Better than WTO!

Forget about DOHA! GFTA is better

Global Free Trade Alliance

Much like free trade itself, a GFTA would be beautifully simple. No one has to sign a treaty, because the alliance is voluntary. Countries join by passing laws that guarantee their commitment to free trade, open investment, property rights and minimal regulation. Congress would give GFTA members access to the U.S. market -- with no tariffs, quotas or other trade barriers -- provided they grant the same access to the U.S. and other GFTA members.

Best of all, a GFTA wouldn't compete with the WTO. Both encourage countries to embrace free trade. But as the WTO expands, it has become more difficult to get a deal, since each country has a form of veto power.

Instead of forcing dozens of countries to green-light identical language before a deal takes effect, a GFTA puts the language out there so willing nations can meet those conditions. As new members join, the organization would grow increasingly attractive; neighboring countries would see the benefits of belonging and say, "I want to join, too." That would encourage non-member countries to make market-friendly reforms.

Plus, unlike bilateral or regional free-trade agreements, a GFTA wouldn't be limited to a small number of partners or a specific region. In theory, it could include all nations. However, unlike the WTO (leader of the Doha Round), it would be based on true free-market practices rather than a slow decrease in trade barriers.

We live in an innovative country and an innovative era. If we want poorer countries to enjoy the prosperity and promise of globalization, we need to think creatively about expanding free trade.

Winston Churchill switched parties in 1904 -- joining the Liberals when the Conservatives wavered in support for free trade. Today's conservatives also should be willing to change their approach. It's time for a Global Free Trade Alliance -- one that enables any country to join us in our race to the top.

Ed Feulner is president of The Heritage Foundation and co-author of the new book “Getting America Right.”

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