With regard to relations with South Korea and ASEAN countries, President Clinton spoke early on about the importance he attaches to these relations by making APEC an annual summit process and pursuing an ambitious trade liberalization agenda within APEC. But in the end, it was the Asian financial crisis that set the tone for U.S. relations in East Asia and even, to some extent, APEC. This view became popular for the first time in 1817 by the economist David Ricardo in his book On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation. He argued that free trade broadens diversity and reduces the prices of goods available in a nation, while making a better part of its own resources, knowledge and specialized skills. On the other hand, the Clinton administration said early on that it took into account strong implementation of U.S. trade legislation – in accordance with international obligations – as an integral part of supporting the international trading system on domestic territory. In practice, this meant that the president intervened in all cases where the ITC recommended it, from the small broom industry to the powerful steel industry. However, the government has given up on imposing protectionist measures outside the legal process (with the exception of two agricultural cases with Canada, where it has extended negotiated solutions defined under previous administrations).
However, poor countries that have adopted a free trade policy have experienced strong economic growth, with China and India being perfect examples. Free trade allows companies in rich countries to invest directly in poor countries, share knowledge, provide capital and access markets. The Doha Round would have been the world`s largest trade agreement if the United States and the EU had agreed on a reduction in their agricultural subsidies. As a result of its failure, China has gained ground on the world`s economic front through cost-effective bilateral agreements with countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. It is also important to consider the progress made in promoting open trade as an autonomous economic policy. The Clinton administration`s record in trade is very strong – perhaps not compared to the ideal of the free trade economist, but certainly compared to previous governments that have faced similar political constraints.