Saturday, May 15, 2010

Using Trade to further Democracy

I have been thinking about the concept of trade and how open a country is, how free the society is and wondering why how one could use trade to encourage more democracy.

Is being a dictatorship an unfair trade advantage?   I believe it is and should be treated as such.   The primary reason I take this opinion is that without a democracy, there is no fundamental rule of law and no fundamental way to enforce contracts or regulations.   It is also unfair to trade when a group of self imposed rulers can not only ignore the public will, but can actively harass, suppress, and oppress people that speak out against the people in power.

I come from the belief that all governments have to come from the popular will of the people and that without this they are no more a government than a biker gang, the mafia or other criminal groups.   Laws only have a meaning if you have a democratic judiciary, this means courts that are independent of the elected government.  A democracy also needs an independent media and a free flow information.

Within a dictatorship contract law can not be enforced because there is no independence of the judges or any free media.   Without either the people in power decide what contract is honoured and what contract is not.   This is a fundamentally unfair trade practice as it does not leave everyone on an even playing field.

If we look to China, we see a group of people holding power that have no mandate from the public.   We see a nation where the public is not allowed to know about opinions contrary to the wishes of the cadre in power.  The  regulations they claim are not enforced unless it is to benefit cronies of gang in power.   China is a dictatorship that uses fear and oppression of the people to ensure that they can sell products to the rest of the world at artificially lower prices.

A country like Iran does not allow a free press, free unions, or an independent justice system.  Why are they allowed to sell products to the rest of the world when it should be obvious that the rulers use repressive force on workers?

There are alternative countries to every dictatorship.   If not China, there is India to trade with.   In fact the developed world should be giving preference to India to reward 63 years of democracy.  In South America there are numerous other options of countries to deal with other Chavezland.  To allow Venezuela to trade with the world without restrictions is unfair to countries that do not allow oppression and theft as a tool of public policy.

The democratic countries of the world have to get serious and set some serious policies to reward free societies and punish dictators.   Using trade is one of the tools that could make a serious difference in the world.   I would love to see Canada overtly express a foreign policy goal of actively promoting democracy in all countries and using whatever tools we have at hand.  It is in our interests to work towards freeing the people of China, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela and other countries.  It is also the morally right thing to do.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My thoughts as well. The United States and Canada should (if they don't already) deliver concessions to democracies over dictatorships.

India, like all democracies has come along way and has a long way to go. At least, however, they are electing their leaders unlike China.

I'd love to see my home state - Alaska sell its natural gas to India over non-democracies.