Open Letter to Congress: Free Trade Is Essential to American Prosperity

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Members of Congress:

On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of our free-market organizations, we write to express our strong support for free trade. Though it has traditionally been a centerpiece of free-market economics and demonstrated vast benefits for American consumers and businesses, the value of trade has recently come under fire.

As a result, we stand at a crossroads. The United States can continue its support of international engagement through open commerce, which has done so much to increase our standard of living, or it can ignore the lessons of history and economics by turning to protectionism. At this critical juncture, your support of free trade is needed more than ever.

Since the publication of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations in 1776, support for free trade among economists of all ideological persuasions has been nearly unanimous. Tariffs – or taxes on trade – were once the major source of federal revenue, but this had disastrous economic consequences. After the failure of the Smoot-Hawley tariffs at the onset of the Great Depression, a bipartisan consensus developed among policymakers in the United States in support of free trade.  

Our 70-year embrace of trade liberalization has paid enormous dividends for American families and businesses: incomes, productivity, and purchasing power have all increased. Likewise, markets once closed to American exports are now open. Overall, this has dramatically improved our standard of living. At the same time, America’s commitment to free trade has alleviated poverty for millions living abroad, which has improved our security. Simply put, free trade makes us wealthier and more secure.

Recent trade agreements have grown in scope and, as a result, become increasingly controversial. While no trade pact is perfect, they should primarily serve to reduce tariffs and non-tariff barriers to international commerce. Additionally, they can deliver benefits to American interests by establishing reasonable protections for intellectual property and reducing market distortions caused by foreign state-owned enterprises.

To some, the false promises of protectionism may be politically alluring; however, as history has demonstrated, increased economic isolation and protectionism would be disastrous for American businesses and consumers. That is why we strongly urge you, as elected representatives, to stand by our organizations in advocating for free trade.

Brandon Arnold, Executive Vice President
National Taxpayers Union
Jim Martin, Chairman
60 Plus Association
Phil Kerpen, President
American Commitment
Dan Schneider, Executive Director
American Conservative Union
Lisa B. Nelson, CEO
American Legislative Exchange Council
Douglas “Dee” Stewart, President
Americans for a Balanced Budget
Grover Norquist, President
Americans for Tax Reform
Andrew F. Quinlan, President
Center for Freedom and Prosperity
Jeffrey Mazzella, President
Center for Individual Freedom
Tom Schatz, President
Citizens Against Government Waste
David McIntosh, President
Club for Growth
Kent Lassman, President
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Neil Bradley, Chief Strategy Officer
Conservative Reform Network
Jim Babka, President
Downsize DC
Katie McAuliffe, Executive Director
Digital Liberty
Hance Haney, Senior Fellow
Discovery Institute
Andy Koenig, Senior Policy Advisor
Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce
Adam Brandon, President and CEO
George Landrith, President
Frontiers of Freedom
Mario H. Lopez, President
Hispanic Leadership Fund
Sabrina Schaeffer, Executive Director
Independent Women's Forum
Heather R. Higgins, President and CEO
Independent Women’s Voice
Andrew Langer, President
Institute for Liberty
Tom Giovanetti, President
Institute for Policy Innovation
Nena Bartlett, Executive Director
Ladies of Liberty Alliance
Allen Gutierrez, National Executive Director
The Latino Coalition
Seton Motley, President
Less Government
Connor Boyack, President
Libertas Institute
James H. Amos, Jr., President and CEO
National Center for Policy Analysis
Jerry Taylor, President
Niskanen Center
Lorenzo Montanari, Executive Director
Property Rights Alliance
Andrew Moylan, Executive Director
R Street
Paul Gessing, President
Rio Grande Foundation
Karen Kerrigan, President and CEO
Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
David Williams, President
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
Sara Croom, Executive Director
Trade Alliance to Promote Prosperity