Anti-globalists warn that this may be their last chance to throw a monkey wrench into the system:
We are entering the most dangerous period of the negotiations, when a deal will either be struck or killed. The next four months will determine whether the WTO gets consolidated as the engine of global trade liberalization and we enter a Brave New World of even greater liberalization, or the process of reversing trade liberalization gains momentum and the WTO is crippled as a mechanism of globalization.
All types of trade restrictions (tariffs, quotas, discriminatory product standards, and so forth) are obstacles to countries specializing in their comparative advantage (discussed in yesterday's post). In short, products are not going to be produced where their opportunity cost is lowest. This is to the detriment, not only of the global economy as a whole, but also of individual countries.
Of course when I say "country" I mean the citizenry as a whole, consumers and producers taken together. For sure there are vested industrial interests which stand to lose from trade liberalization. Continuing Ricardo's example: in England the wine-makers stand to lose profit from the influx of Portuguese wine. So they would spin out all manner of ingenious fallacies to oppose international trade. All manner of power and influence is exerted upon the state regulators to restrict trade. The result? England as a whole, and Portugal as a whole forfeit gains from trade.
At least the wine-makers are happy. Will the "wine-makers" gain the upper hand (again) in Hong Kong? Or will states finally realize who they are really representing, and act accordingly?