As in developed-market economy countries, protection in developing countries has involved efficiency losses in those cases in which it has been excessive. In a recent study estimates that trade and technical barriers within the European Community were costing community industries Ecu 120 billion per year. In the USA it has been found that a permanent policy of tariff protection would cost, per job, 14 times more than it would provide in private benefit to the individual worker; it would cost US$ 1 for every 7 cents gained by workers whose jobs were preserved. In Canada, the ratio was 70 to 1; for every 1.5 cents by which the worker would be better off, one Canadian dollar would be wasted.
2. If developing countries are to reconcile a need for rapid export growth with a need to conserve the resource base, it is imperative that they achieve access to the markets of industrialized countries in the case of those non-traditional exports where they have a comparative advantage.
3. The cost of maintaining trade barriers is paid by the consumer through taxes which are used for subsidies to domestic industries, higher prices of domestic and uncompetitive goods and services and additional taxes to pay for expenditures by government to administer the barriers. The cost of protecting agriculture can be very high: in the USA 3% of total farm input and 16% in the EEC/EU. Non-tariff barriers such as Voluntary Export Restraints (VER) can cost to the importing country three times as much as equivalent tariff protection. Countries that do not protect home industries prosper because their more open markets draw in more and cheaper goods, keeping down inflation and interest rates. Their industries are toughened by having to meet global competition.
4. Protectionism leads to distortions in the structure of production, consumption and trade, and these are costly to economic growth. Many developed countries are willing to donate "humanitarian" aid to developing countries in need, but they refuse to allow the freedom for those same countries to become economically viable in their own right.
3. The case against protection, in developing countries should be tempered by the fact that the motivations for protection in developing countries are quite different from those in industrialized countries. Broadly speaking, the adoption by developing countries of measures with the potential to restrict trade would appear to be designed to serve one or more of the following purposes: revenue collection, balance-of-payments protection, and infant-industry protection. To the extent that such infant-industries eventually become internationally competitive, such protection serves to effect structural change and not to arrest it, as is frequently the case with protection in industrialized countries from "market disruption". The structure of protection in developing countries tends not to be discriminatory, in contrast with those adopted by developed-market countries. Developing countries tend to be foreign exchange constrained and their import levels are typically determined by their export earnings rather than by their protective policies. Finally, unlike the developed market economies, there would appear not to have been any trend towards increased protection in recent years.
4. The problem with free trade is that the rich protect themselves by setting everyone else at each others' throats. The old dichotomy between free trade and protectionism is obsolete. A new route is needed for justice, equity and quality of life. The word "protect" should be reclaimed. There is nothing to be ashamed about protection. It depends on who is doing it and to what end.