A realist would say that the top merit of free trade is the ability to manipulate the system to increase a state’s power. As was said in Module 9’s first lecture, international trade “is now more than 16 trillion dollars per year” (Bretton Woods, 9). This money is powerful and a realist sees the value behind the large dollar sign. As Marx saw and the second lecture noted, “more wealth means more power” (Economic Ideologies, 15). Realists would value the ability states have to dominate the system if the state has an absolute or even comparative advantage.
A liberal would say that free trade is the international system’s way of providing an excellent opportunity to collaborate and communicate with other actors. Liberals would want a free market, and a market free from as much state intervention as possible (Economic Ideologies, 7). There is minimal intervention, because of the lack of a “world government to enforce rules of trade” (Goldstein & Pevehouse, 315). The liberal would also admire the finding “that trade is not zero-sum, as the mercantilists believe.
Instead both countries gain from trade” (Economic Ideologies, 9). This validates interstate collaboration as an effective practice for states.
I agree more with the thoughts of the liberals concerning the merits of free trade. Having minimal state intervention and control over the market allows for states to have to communicate with one another to create pacts, agreements, and alliances. These collaborations can then be called upon later as states face challenges and need help from other states.
The opportunities the free trade market provides – beyond the ability to exchange goods between states without restrictions – thus grant great reason to support international cooperation; I must agree with the liberal.