The Trade Pact Waiting to Happen

March 29, 2021

Friends—like the U.S. and the U.K.—are invaluable in a pinch.

Of all the things shared by the United States and Britain, perhaps the most important is the common law—a system of law that isn’t imposed from above but arises from the people in the form of cases and precedents. Engrained in common law is the concept of “partnership.” Partnerships allow individuals to cooperate by sharing knowledge and resources for mutual benefit. They are also voluntary, allowing each member to freely associate, and require each to value the welfare of his counterpart as much as his own.

Partnerships bring about peace, prosperity and productivity. We work together, so we both benefit, and there is no greater exemplar of a partnership between nations than that of the U.S. and the United Kingdom. No two nations have worked more successfully together. No two peoples have done more to expand and defend liberty, and to achieve peace and prosperity.

Economists have known since Adam Smith and David Ricardo that free trade increases prosperity at home and abroad. It brings efficiency, innovation and better products at lower costs. Between nations with similar worker protection regimes, developed economies, robust legal systems and a common language—such as the U.S. and U.K.—the usual qualms over fair compensation and intellectual property protections disappear. The figures all show that global free trade has done more to reduce poverty around the world than have other measures, including government-led initiatives.

The economic ties between our nations are already strong. In 2019 the trading relationship in goods and services between our countries was measured at $273 billion; and the U.S. is Britain’s single largest trading partner. A free trade agreement would allow even more goods and services to flow more easily between our countries and open the potential for expanded commercial partnerships and investments in emerging industries.

The current pandemic and supply-chain turmoil has confirmed that friends are invaluable in a pinch. Global relationships are unsteady. Many governments do not know what the future of their trading relationships will look like.

When uncertainty has struck in the past, the American and British people have joined forces for their mutual benefit and common good. As history demonstrates, the combined might of that partnership has steadied the world through its greatest peril. Now, facing an aggressive and expansionist China, Americans and Britons have the opportunity again to join forces and emerge from this crisis stronger than ever—for the benefit of our countries, and nations across the globe.

Free trade and free markets have ensured that we do not have to wait in queues for bread. Our common law, common history and common aims should ensure that we do not have to wait in the queue for the benefits of a free trade agreement. Now is the time for both governments to exercise good faith and reach an agreement that will benefit us both.

Op-ed originally published by the Wall Street Journal