Farmers often talk about international trade in terms of what’s good for them. That makes sense – when you’re trying to run a family business and raise a family by a minuscule margin, you are certainly concerned about how trade (or lack thereof) impacts your checkbook.
But there’s another side of trade. There is a humanitarian need that can simply be expressed as “We produce food here, while most of the world’s hungry are over there.” And sometimes “We generate economic activity to pull the neediest out of poverty by buying and selling over there.”
According to Pierre Kamere Munyura, Americans love Rwandan coffee. And Rwandan’s appreciate the American aircraft, medical supplies, and machinery they were able to purchase in the $100 million of two-way trade between the countries in 2016.
Munyura said, “In recent years, Rwandans have learned about the value of economic opportunity. A generation ago, foreign aid made up most of our government’s budget. And we were thankful for the support from foreign countries. Today, however, this figure has dwindled to 17 percent.
Like many Rwandans, I’d like to see it vanish to nothing. The best way for us to do this is to replace aid with trade and become fully integrated with the global economy.”
Certainly, although it isn’t always the first consideration when discussing trade, the idea that diminished trade with other countries will have more than economic impacts has merit. Withdrawing from the global marketplace will weaken growing, fledgling economies and create the potential for global disruption and starvation.