If You Ask Me: A Global Banker Reflects on Our Times
Wriston, Walter B.
Free Trade Benefits Consumers
What do you think should be done about U.S. industries that are in competitive trouble because of imports?
There are two points of view on that. One is the consumer's, who wants to buy the best product at the cheapest possible price. The fact is that the international division of labor is always operative. But some companies get into trouble with imports because they refuse to look at the real world. We lost the shoe business in New York, for example, not because of price but because of styling. The Europeans, particularly the Italians, beat us blind on styling.
On the other hand, if you have a subsidized foreign import coming in, which is basically what you get from some countries, then you have to attack it on two levels. You respond first on the diplomatic level and, second, with some kind of government assistance. This could mean help in phasing out old industries, like the woolen mills in Worcester, and starting up new industries.
I think that basically, however, the freer the trade is, the better off the consumers are across the country and around the world.