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Free trade has lifted mankind to a level of wealth that was recently unimaginable. In 1990, 38 percent of human beings lived in extreme poverty; today, that figure has fallen to 8 per cent, as previously closed African and Asian economies have joined the global market.

Yet, paradoxically, free trade has never been so out of fashion. Across the world, idealistic people march against trade deals, protest G20 summits, occupy stock exchanges, sincerely believing that, in doing so, they are standing up for the poor against multinational corporations – when, in reality, they are doing the opposite.

Politicians naturally respond to public opinion. The Uruguay Round, concluded in 1994, was the last successful comprehensive multilateral trade negotiation. Trade barriers have been on the rise globally, which has led to declining world trade volumes - even before the COVID pandemic struck.

We need to recapture the moral case for open commerce. Free trade is not simply a way to buy cheaper iPhones. It is the ultimate instrument of poverty alleviation, conflict resolution and social justice.

IFT seeks to recapture the intellectual and moral case for free trade, and to change government policy toward revitalising the global economy. We pursue this through three dedicated work streams:


EDUCATE CIVIL SOCIETY

No one is born a free trader. We will use videos and online resources to explain the concepts of free trade in a way designed to appeal to sceptics – which is to say, to almost everyone. We also contribute to teaching University modules in economics, and host an in-house Summer School for future leaders.


CONVINCE BUSINESS

We will reach out to businesses and interest groups around the world, particularly in developing countries. We will bring them together to look at specific ways in which eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers will lead to general prosperity. We will publish country-by-country and sector-by-sector studies showing how FTAs will benefit participating economies.


CHANGE POLICY

We will use our extensive networks within governments to promote new trade agreements and to make sure that they focus on mutual recognition rather than standardisation – in other words, that they benefit consumers rather than producers. We will work closely with, though independently of, the UK’s Department for International Trade, with a focus on facilitating economic diplomacy internationally, and unilateral liberalisation at home too.

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Piyush Goyal

@PiyushGoyal 4 days ago

Addressing a Press Conference with UK Secretary of State for International Trade @annietrev, at the launch of India… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…

Initiative for Free Trade

@IFTtweets 4 days ago

India, Britain launching talks on free trade deal independent.co.uk/asia/india/ind…

Liz Truss

@trussliz 28 days ago

Good talks between 🇬🇧 and #GCC foreign ministers 🇧🇭🇰🇼🇴🇲🇶🇦🇸🇦🇦🇪 at Chevening on deepening economic and security ties.… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…

Vicky Ford MP

@vickyford one month ago

Today at @ChathamHouse I will set a new course for our partnerships with African countries, based on supporting fre… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…

Alexander Hammond

@AlexanderHammo one month ago

Had a fantastic time discussing the AfCFTA and the role it could play in combating poverty across the African conti… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…

Colin Grabow

@cpgrabow one month ago

Have to congratulate whoever sent this to my office for an excellent troll. pic.twitter.com/ODndZw8LSI

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