In my latest reading of Freedom from Want: American Liberalism and the Global Economy, Gresser critiques the notion that freer trade harms the environment, as well as argues that protectionism can harm the poor.
the environment, Gresser disagrees with the idea that the World Trade
Organization is completely insensitive to environmental concerns, for he
refers to a WTO decision that would protect a turtle in waters that
were used for fishing and shrimping. Gresser also argues that freer
trade could perhaps get the U.S. to become more efficient in producing
ethanol. Gresser contends that the U.S. ethanol business remains an
infant after twenty-five years. But suppose we started to import cheap
ethanol from Brazil, Gresser says. Maybe then we'd get our act together
on ethanol, resulting in "cleaner air and lower emissions" (page 156)!
the poor, Gresser argues that protectionism hurts people in Cambodia,
since it discourages Americans from buying its products. What will
these vulnerable foreign workers do, if Americans don't buy their
products and their company goes out of business? Moreover, Gresser
contends that protectionism hurts poor single parents in the U.S., since
they depend on cheaper imported goods (i.e., shoes, clothing), and
protectionism would drive up the cost of those goods.