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Free Trade is Always Good - IUF Comment 31/2006

Sascha Tamm, IUF

In an effort not to jeopardize membership talks with the EU, Turkey offered a compromise with regard to the dispute over whether it should allow Cypriot ships and airplanes access to Turkish ports and airports. At the same time, however, Turkey is demanding direct trade between the EU and the occupied southern territory of Cyprus. This demand is a reasonable one and should be granted by the EU.  


Of course, it would be just as reasonable for Turkey to open all ports and airports to facilitate trade with Cyprus. For both parties, however, a complete opening of all ports is not the issue. Both sides have demonstrated how politically motivated decisions and power struggles deprive many people of prosperity. And such actions always affect the citizens on both sides of a conflict. Furthermore, if Turkey's occupation of a part of Cyprus violates international law, then there is no basis to enforce a trade embargo.  


The EU-member countries have handled economic exchange well and have benefited from the creation of prosperity, the fostering of peace and the simultaneous minimization of conflict. Conversely, politically motivated protectionism reinforces the conflict. Groups have been created that are interested in sustaining the conflict and consequently trade barriers. Moreover, the situation strips away political profit for nationalist. Trade barriers favor national monopolists and those who act "illegally" with political protection in spite of all embargos. Therefore, the EU should decide, while completely ignoring Turkish politics, to free Turkish Cyprus from the chains of protectionism.  


It is absurd for both parties to wait for concessions while imposing a mutual and simultaneous blockade. One could ask along with Monsieur Bastiat whether it would be correct to throw rocks into my own harbor if my neighbor's harbor is blocked by rocks. The answer is as plain as the nose on your face.  




  • Sascha Tamm, Director of Politics IUF


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Friedrich August von Hayek (1899-1992)

"The more the state 'plans' the more difficult planning becomes for the individual."

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