INITIATIVE FOR FREE TRADE
IFT is a private, not-for-profit, non-partisan research organisation.
IFT makes the intellectual and moral case for free trade, and sees Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union as a unique opportunity to revitalise the world trading system.
IFT’s President is the Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan. IFT is managed by an Executive Board, and has an International Advisory Board, which includes former heads of government, trade ministers and business leaders.
IFT is funded by donations from private individuals, companies and corporations. If you would like to support our work, please visit our donate page.
INTERNATIONAL ADVISORY BOARD
Prime Minister of Australia
José María Aznar
Prime Minister of Spain
President of Bolivia
Finance Minister of New Zealand
US Senator for Nebraska
British Home Secretary
Chairman and Co-Principal of Ipex Capital
Former Joint Chairman of Business for Britain
Digby, Lord Jones of Birmingham Kb
Founding director of Digby Jones LLP, former Minister of State for Trade & Investment, former Director-General of the CBI
Dame Helena Morrissey, DBE
Head of Personal Investing at Legal & General Investment Management
Entrepreneur, investor and founding chairman of Reliance Security Group
Entrepreneur, investor and chairman of Burnbrae
Manager of the Cobden Centre
IFT recaptures the moral case for open commerce
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 last major regional trade deals were ASEAN and NAFTA, agreed in the early 1990s. We even face the prospect of retaliatory tariffs between the world’s largest and second-largest economies – the United States and China.
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.
Brexit is more than an opportunity to take back control. Properly managed, it ought to benefit the entire world
EDUCATE CIVIL SOCIETY
No one is born a free trader. We have the instincts of hunter-gatherers: to hoard food, to provide against famine, to seek self-sufficiency. But these instincts can make it difficult to accept the economic dependence on which open trade is based. We will use videos and online resources to make the case in a way designed to appeal to sceptics – which is to say, to almost everyone.
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.
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 newly established International Trade Department, ensuring that Brexit becomes a catalyst for a freer global trading order. We will bring together the relevant ministers and officials to hear the best arguments for open markets. We will publish a Free Trade Index, ranking countries according to their openness to foreign commerce and investment.