From The Editor: Breaking Barriers

From The Editor

Breaking BarriersLegend has it that Henry IV of France, in a move to protect French farmers
of woad (the plant that makes the dark blue woad dyes), declared the indigo plant (which, of
course, is the plant found in the New World that makes the bright blue indigo dyes) a pernicious
drug. Anyone caught importing indigo into France would have been beheaded. This is probably an
extreme example of unfair trade practices, but other methods of creating obstacles and controlling
the free flow of goods to gain an upper hand in commerce are not unheard of even today. And, they
all go against the principle of free trade. If countries – whether they are industrialized
powerhouses or those on their way of development – are to create a globalized trade environment and
reap the benefits of it, governments should embrace truly free and fair trading practices. As
Asia’s economic importance grows in the world, some Asian governments are being criticized as not
adhering to free-trade principles because they do not compete on a level playing field with the
rest of the world. Examples include currency manipulation, disregard for environmental issues, lack
of protection for workers, among others. At the same time, many Asian countries see special
safeguard systems and preferential treatment as unfair moves taken by the West to protect their
industries.However one sees it, perhaps a positive first step is to acknowledge the differences and
commit to resolving the issues? By Carmen

March/April 2005