NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Imports And Free Trade

December 14, 1999

Better and cheaper imports are the key benefit of free trade -- not increased exports, say economists. Exports are what we have to give up to purchase the imports. Thus free trade benefits us, even if other nations don't practice it.

U.S. impediments to imports -- from sugar to clothing to steel -- make us all poorer.

  • Removing barriers to imports would reduce the prices of these products by 6 percent to 37 percent, depending on the item, according to a recent study by the U.S. International Trade Commission.
  • The poorest consumers would benefit most, since they spend more of their income on such basics as food and clothing -- losing 3.8 percent of their income each year to clothing tariffs alone, according to the Institute for International Economics

And removing all import restraints -- such as quotas and tariffs -- could save consumers $14.9 billion annually, according to the ITC.

Source: Macroscope, "Trade is Good," Investor's Business Daily, December 14, 1999.


Browse more articles on Tax and Spending Issues