Free Trade, as bad as immigration


Imagine a factory pumping out widgets to be bought by British consumers. Now imagine that of all the workers, none of them are British. Scandalous, right? These immigrants have taken the jobs of some hardworking Brits. Well actually no, because that factory could be based in Ukraine, or Germany or Japan. In terms of jobs, free trade is as bad as immigration.

When you buy a product from a foreign company you are depriving a British person of a job. It sounds nonsensical, but it is the same argument used against immigration. They are both ‘foreign’ workers, they are both providing goods that Brits buy, and by having the job and providing the goods they are occupying a job that otherwise could have been filled by a British worker. The only difference is immigrants produce goods and spend their wages here, whilst free trade means that goods are imported from elsewhere, and the wages are not spent here.

Where is the outrage? Not only are hardworking Brits forfeiting their jobs for foreign workers but the money is being taken out of the British economy! Free trade is even worse for Britain than immigration.

These lines of argument seem stupid because they are. Opposition to immigration is as stupid as opposition to free trade. The ‘jobs pie’ is not fixed but grows; this is the simple lump of labour fallacy. The more efficient and productive the workers, the more the ‘pie’ expands. Free trade, like immigration, is about individuals making voluntary choice. In the former, consumers buy foreign products because they are cheaper or better quality than their domestic counterpart. In the latter, factory owners and bosses buy foreign labour because they are cheaper or of better quality that their domestic counter part. The two in jobs terms are absolutely the same. If a product is made outside of Britain or made by a foreign worker inside Britain it is still not a British person who has the job.

The argument on free trade has mostly been won; it benefits everyone to have global competition. Consumers get the best value for money and all businesses are forced to compete and lower their waste, becoming more efficient and productive. But somehow the anti-immigration brigade are allowed to pull out their fallacious claims about job stealing immigrants. Open border immigration means job competition. Consumers get the best value for money, workers are forced to become more efficient and productive.

Immigration and free trade are a pair; stop immigration and not free trade and immigrants will go to other countries. Their businesses will get the best labour and British business will go out of business because they can’t compete. Immigrant workers in Britain are more productive – they even pay more tax on average than British workers do.

It is inconsistent and logically bankrupt to oppose immigration but support free trade. All the arguments you can make for free trade apply to immigration, and all the economic arguments you can make for immigration apply to free trade.



  1. The argument only makes sense in an anarcho-capitalist utopian world, which we do not currently have. Ollie, have you come across Hans Herman Hoppe’s analysis that immigration is used as a weapon by the statists?

    ” First, with the establishment of a state and territorially defined state borders, “immigration” takes on an entirely new meaning. In a natural order, immigration is a person’s migration from one neighborhood-community into a different one (micro-migration). In contrast, under statist conditions immigration is immigration by “foreigners” from across state borders, and the decision whom to exclude or include, and under what conditions, rests not with a multitude of independent private property owners or neighborhoods of owners but with a single central (and centralizing) state-government as the ultimate sovereign of all domestic residents and their properties (macro-migration). If a domestic resident-owner invites a person and arranges for his access onto the resident-owner’s property but the government excludes this person from the state territory, it is a case of forced exclusion (a phenomenon that does not exist in a natural order). On the other hand, if the government admits a person while there is no domestic resident-owner who has invited this person onto his property, it is a case of forced integration (also non-existent in a natural order, where all movement is invited).”

  2. Free trade doesn’t benefit fall, it doesn’t benefit those who have a vested interest in a cartel succeeding.

    In the same way immigration doesn’t benefit everyone, people who have overly high wages due to a shortage of skilled workers will have a vested interest in those wages. Also, people who have a vested interest in being able to own large homes with large gardens will have a vested interest in seeing the population kept down.

    Unfortunately, the latter set makes up the bulk of the British electorate. It’ll be incredibly hard to make the argument to them that free movement in is their interests. Even if you win the economic argument the social argument is near unwinnable.

    After all, free competition will always destroy vested interests and favour the talented. A lot of British people are where they are today from who they know, not what they can do. Open-door immigration would see poor foreigners get richer but will also lead to incompetent British people becoming poorer.

      • This argument makes sense if you leave out certain aspects, like, foreign workers send money home, the taxpayer forks out for child benefit which gets sent to the foreign worker’s home country,

        it also falls down when we get immigrants claiming benefits, housing and nhs treatment, services which are currently stretched and paid for by the taxpayer over many years like an insurance system.

        as for foreign workers being more productive, that’s a myth unless you are an employer paying cash or wages below the legal minimum wage, their communication skills are limited by their grasp of English and I find the whole suggestion insulting to British workers who work just as hard,

        I admit there are shirkers but all should not be painted in the same light, and we only have the benefit culture because benefits are too generous and have been for way too long,

        that’s what needs to change. As we get more and more immigration I see more businesses closing down, shops in town centres boarded up, British businesses, family businesses, built up over many years, unhappy businessmen packing up and heading abroad,

        my contacts in Australia tell me more and more British businesses are relocating there, so there are fewer jobs, more unemployment, more load on the benefit system, housing subsidised by housing benefit because minimum wage immigrants can qualify for it, and working tax credits, the EU is making it impossible for the UK to not pay benefits to a new and probably much bigger wave of immigrants from Bulgaria and Romania, there are no jobs, they will come for a better life at the expense of the taxpayer until the system goes bust.

        Exports & imports from non eu countries ie China are taxed by the EU in order to keep their highly priced goods competitive, we end up paying more for goods which could be a lot cheaper, Britain always used to trade on quality, if you go to Calais and look in a shop window you’ll see shoes made in Northampton, England, with a fancy price tag, they sell because they are the best, each country has it’s own appeal and this cannot be combined into a single market.

        We need to get back to basics, stop all the rules and laws made in Brussels to benefit europe to the cost of the British, stop mass immigration, get British people into work and drastically reduce the benefit bill.

        • “This argument makes sense if you leave out certain aspects, like,
          foreign workers send money home, the taxpayer forks out for child
          benefit which gets sent to the foreign worker’s home country,”

          This makes little or no difference as the worker will still be taxed in the UK and most spend some of their money on food and lodgings here.

          “it also falls down when we get immigrants claiming benefits, housing and
          nhs treatment, services which are currently stretched and paid for by
          the taxpayer over many years like an insurance system.”

          As pointed out above, this argument is just wrong. Immigrants have been shown, time and time again to be NET contributors to the economy. This means that the money they pay in is higher than that which they take out.

      • Have you looked at the labour force statistics for the Islamic immigrants (specifically Bangladeshi and Pakistani)? I suppose, if you are a fan of the Cloward and Piven strategy of killing the state, its a winner. On the other hand, several million pissed off, hungry, economically useless god botherers, might be an issue come the collapse.


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