Just as U.S. economic policy after the Second World War helped democracy take root in Western Europe and Japan, free trade can help strengthen fragile democracies in Central and South America, Africa, and Asia. President George W. Bush says free trade "is not just an economic opportunity, it is a moral imperative”:
“One of the great economic achievements since the end of the Cold War has been the success of free and fair trade in raising up the world's poor, bringing hope to the world's hopeless, promoting freedom among the world's oppressed, and creating jobs at home and abroad. We support free and fair trade because it has the power to create new wealth for whole nations and new opportunities for millions of people. Open trade is sound policy. It has a record for creating jobs and raising living standards and lowering consumer prices.”
That is why the U.S. is promoting free trade around the globe. President Bush has signed into law a free trade agreement between the U.S. and Australia. And the Dominican Republic joined the U.S., Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua as part of the Central American Free Trade Agreement. The U.S. already has such agreements with Israel, Canada, Mexico, Jordan, Chile, and Singapore. In addition to Australia and Central America, the U.S. recently completed trade agreements with Bahrain and Morocco. Negotiations are underway between the U.S. and Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, Thailand, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, and South Africa.
President Bush has also proposed the establishment of a U.S.-Middle East free trade area in order to promote economic progress. But free trade will only be possible, said President Bush, if there is both political and economic reform. “By replacing corruption and self-dealing with free markets and fair laws,” said Mr. Bush, “the people of the Middle East will grow in prosperity and freedom. As trade expands and knowledge spreads to the Middle East, as women gain a place of equality and respect, as the rule of law takes hold, all peoples of that region will see a new day of justice and a new day of prosperity.”