So-called "free trade" treaties like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are anti-free trade, historical social scientist Immanuel Wallerstein argues.
Countries claiming to create free trade areas are in reality just looking to entrench their political power by protecting the domestic markets of signatory states and stifling the economic performance of other countries outside their bloc. Because free trade treaties are necessarily exclusive, they are protectionist measures aimed at protecting the domestic markets of their member states.
When we see the world as a whole system, as Immanuel Wallerstein teaches in his world-systems theory, we cannot focus solely on the free trade within a specific bloc of countries when describing free trade. The world-system has in fact never known free trade. It will not now know it by signing more protectionist measures into effect that are based not on uplifting other countries but on advantaging the political and economic stature of some countries, most commonly the United States itself.
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Wallerstein concludes in his post, " So-called free-trade treaties are about managing the protectionist interests of the various parties to these treaties. Whatever they do, the results are anti-free trade."