1. Trade, Development & Sustainability
  2. International Trade and Corporations
  3. Roadblocks to Development
  4. The Debt Crisis in Developing Countries
  5. Free Trade and the Environment
  6. Trade and National Boundaries
  7. A Case Study: the Bushmeat Crisis
  8. "Sundown on the Unions"
  9. What's Wrong with Fair Trade?
  10. A Peek at the US Tariff Schedule

Trade and National Boundaries

A dictatorship does not... merely annul the process of choice and participation, which might take the form of an election; it annuls, effectively, the nation itself. If therefore there is an organization that claims to be a club of nations, what, may we ask, are dictators doing within such an organization? What nations exactly do they represent? A rubber, timber or mining concession granted to an entrepreneur for exploitation also involves the making and implementing of local laws for the survival and profits of the company. It may involve the construction of independent airfields, establishment of company police, public levies or other forms of taxation, or capital- intensive, autonomous infrastructures... but does any of this turn such spaces into nations? What makes the American businessman’s private army in the Andean jungle depths any more alien to that environment than a power-crazed drug warlord, an indigene of Nigerian or any other space, who happens to have succeeded in seizing control of a section of a nation’s armed forces and cows the rest into submission through torture, threat of dismissals, imprisonments, and secret executions? Is such a being a representative voice of a nation? It is time this question is invoked within the United Nations. All organizations evolve, and so must the the UNO.           — Wole Soyinka

we come to understand the land, the resources and opportunities of the natural world, as common property, to which all human beings, now and in the future, have an equal share, the concept of a "national boundary" takes on a different character. We see that the arrangements that societies have made in this regard are provisional, politically motivated, and finally without either moral basis or economic rationale.

We saw the basis of this understanding in Protection or Free Trade. George notes that if it benefits individuals, families, towns and states to trade with one another, why then would it benefit nations to restrict trade? He also observes the utter lack of compunction with which people evade customs duties — because they feel that there is no wrong in carrying duly-purchased goods across imaginary boundaries.

The Apollo astronauts’ photos of the Earth from space show no national boundaries. They exist for political reasons; they delimit spheres of influence and control. The earth is the same on either side of a national boundary; the wind makes no announcement when it crosses a border.

This seemingly poetic insight is one that the business community has long recognized. Business has so effectively become a global phenomenon that national governments in many places are scrambling to find ways to regulate the behavior of multinational corporations. International "free trade" agreements, influenced by the lobbying of international business, go as far as to impose sanctions on nations who seek to improve their environmental or safety regulations. As was explained above, such maneuvers have nothing to do with free trade; they are actually grants of privilege.

Ross Perot heard a "giant sucking sound" — but he did not correctly identify its source. It wasn’t international trade, but the collection of unearned wealth by the holders of land and other monopolies. Truly free trade begins with the recognition of humanity’s common right to the natural opportunities — and the individual’s right to keep the wealth that he or she produces. When nations implement this basic key to economic justice and prosperity, the pressures on their national boundaries will no longer be so intense. The needed reforms are far-reaching, and their implementation will not be easy — but comprehensive solutions do exist. The first step is to make sure that people understand them.