Generally agriculture is the backbone of our country’s economy. The economy almost solely depends on our agricultural products which earns us a considerable income after exportation. Our major export earner in the agricultural sector is cotton. Cotton farming is practiced largely across the country and the country’s economy is majorly supported by the growth of this cash crop. It is, therefore, ideal that we proceed with caution and discretion when dealing with matters that relate to the production and sale of our cotton lest we end up destroying our own economy. We have to critically examine and clearly understand the effects any agreement of trade which we enter will have on the production of cotton in this country. We should only sign into trade agreements and pacts that would impact positively on our cotton production and those that will make us earn more from cotton production.
A free trade agreement in this context is an agreement between two countries to remove trade barriers and restriction between them to facilitate free and efficient trade between them. It is important to note that free trade agreements are well recognized under the world trade organization. This means that in the event that there is a dispute between the two parties, then aggrieved party has a podium to sue for action to be taken. It is like a contractual agreement and every party is under obligation to perform its duties as per the agreement provided the other party is playing its role. FTAs are, therefore, legally enforceable by law since they are provided for in the World Trade Organization.
The proposed free trade agreement means that our partner country will reduce a trade barrier which means that more markets will be open and accessible to us. Similarly it is expected that our country will also reduce its barriers and thus allow the partner country to access our markets. The FTAs are meant to liberalize access to the markets of each of the parties by the other party. The agreements also seek to protect the interest of the parties involved as pertains to the trade. The trade agreements will also reduce transactions costs of goods between the countries particularly relating to the transport of goods during exportation.
The Free Trade Agreements that our country intends to enter into will have both positive impacts and negative effects on the economy of our country as well as the growth and income earned from cotton. It is, therefore, important that we take a critical look into the benefits of the said trade agreement to our economy as well as its downsides before we can decide whether it’s a prudent idea to engage in the agreement or not.
The trade agreement is bound to have quite some considerable benefits to our economy. First the trade agreement is bound to strengthen trade ties between our countries. This is because with the trade barriers and tariffs removed we will become closer trading partners. We will become their priority market center and we will also be their main targets in their marketing endeavors. Moreover the trade agreement is bound to open up opportunities for our farmers to expand their horizons. This is because with the agreement, the markets of the partnering country will be open to our farmers and investors. Therefore our farmers, particularly those growing cotton will have more markets and thus a more viable customer base to which they can sell the cotton. The importance of cotton to the economy of this country cannot be overstressed. And therefore it is paramount that we cautiously embrace every opportunity that promises an improvement of the income from cotton production.
Another benefit that would stem out of this agreement is that is going to provide us with significant financial benefits to our country. With the increased markets and customer base, we are going to be able to earn more from our agricultural sector particularly from the production of cotton. We will be in an position to find market for our extra cotton that sometimes go to waste as a result of inadequate markets. And it goes without saying that an improvement in the income earned will certainly improve our growing economy.
The Free Trade Agreement will also provide the consumers which in this case will be the citizens of our beloved country a variety or a wide range of products to choose from. This is because with our markets being open to our partnering country, investors and business will be able to bring in a variety of goods and agricultural products to our markets. As a developing country, easier access of goods will go a long way in improving our growing economy as we will be able to get the goods without having to go through all the barriers and tariffs that often impede smooth transactions between our countries.
The agreement will also encourage the cotton growers to improve the quality of their products. This also applies to producers of other agricultural products who will be relying on the newfound market. This is because with the opening of the markets, there is bound to be more products availed in the market and thus competition for the customers. This therefore means that our farmers will have to step up their game when it comes to production in order to compete effectively with the increasing market competition. This increase in the quality of our agricultural will make them desirable even to other countries with whom we are no entering into an agreement with. This will again help to expand our horizons and thus the income earned from the production of cotton.
In as much as it has all the aforementioned benefits it is worth to note that the agreement will not be a perfect ride down a smooth road. Entering such an agreement will put our country into positions of risks and also expose our economy to possibilities of exploitation. We, therefore, have to prepare and brace ourselves for these challenges in the event that we decide to enter into the agreement.
For instance, we have to keep in mind that the country we intend to partner with has a stronger economy than our own. In several agreements that were made between countries with different economic strengths, the country with the stronger economy has always ended up imposing their will on those with weaker economies. It is common that the less developed countries have always ended up conceding more freedoms and rights than their stronger partners. The stronger economies tend to allow minimal access to their markets and they barely remove their trade restrictions.
It is also worth noting that free trade agreements do not encourage trade liberalization so much. Actually for purposes of trade liberalization, multilateral agreements are a far better option. This is because while in the FTA, we are bound to make sure that our partners are our priority consumers and they have to be our first option whenever we want to acquire any agricultural goods. This agreement will, therefore, curtail our freedom to trade whenever and however we want. This is very important aspect of this agreement and therefore we have to give it a lot of consideration.
Free Trade Agreements also tend to promote formation of large trading blocks. These trading blocks are bound to become very competitive. Competition between such large blocs is likely to create a situation of economic instability. This will no doubt have a negative impact on our young economy. The impact of such instability will be disastrous.
Generally, despite the fact that the intended free trade agreement will be putting our country at risk and exposing our economy to possibilities of exploitation, it still remains that we stand to gain a lot more. If we proceed with caution and discretion in process, then we can take advantage of this opportunity and make it work to our advantage. Our economy needs a huge boost to develop and be competitive and the success of this agreement will go a long way in providing the boost. Therefore, having understood the risk, we should brace ourselves as a country and have preemptive measures put in place to avoid us falling victims of the risks of the agreement. Cotton farmers should also take advantage of this agreement to increase the production of the crop so as to maximize the benefits that will be available ones the agreement is put in place. It is, therefore, my hope and prayer that our country get into this agreement. It is worth the course.
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Song, Guoyou and Wen Jin Yuan. "China's Free Trade Agreement Strategies ." The washingtone Quarterly (Fall 2013): 107-119.