cover image Fair Trade for All: How Trade Can Promote Development

Fair Trade for All: How Trade Can Promote Development

Joseph E. Stiglitz, Andrew Charlton. Oxford University Press, $38.5 (315pp) ISBN 978-0-19-929090-1

Nobel Prize-winning economist and ex-World Bank official Stiglitz is the leading mainstream critic of the free-trade, free-market ""Washington Consensus"" for developing countries. In this follow-up to his best-selling Globalization and its Discontents, he and Charlton, a development expert, present their vision of a liberalized global trade regime that is carefully geared to the interests of poorer countries. They recap a critique, much of it based on Stiglitz's academic work, of orthodox trade theories, noting the real-world constraints and complications that undermine the assumption that unregulated free trade is always a boon, and analyze the bias towards developed countries in previous trade agreements. They call for the current round of trade negotiations to refocus on principles of equity and social justice that accord developing countries ""special and differential treatment."" The authors present detailed policy prescriptions, including measures to open developed countries to developing countries' exports of textiles and farm products and to ease the temporary migration of workers between countries; their most far-reaching proposal is a scheme to open every country to goods from any other country whose economy is smaller and poorer than its own. The authors' treatise is readable, but rather dry and technical and sometimes politically naive, particularly in glossing over the problem of workers in developed economies whose jobs are threatened by trade with developing countries. The book isn't quite right for a general audience, but it has a sophisticated, wide-ranging discussion of world trade, intriguing new ideas and the Stiglitz byline, so those already interested in trade issues will consider it a must-read.