Two Experiences with Free Trade

Most of what I read on liberal American blogs about free trade makes me cringe. While Americans are only slightly more parochial than, say, Europeans, the chronic lack of stepping back and taking an international view in the US leads people to insane conclusions about free trade.

The last straw in this case was a comment by Interrobang on Echidne, “Free trade should be scrapped anyway. North America is still having trade wars.” Interrobang’s comment fields a pretty good argument that what passes for free trade in the Western hemisphere – that is, elimination of tariffs and quotas without a concordant elimination of subsidies – is a bad idea.

But, you know, the Americas aren’t the only part of the world with free trade agreements. Western Europe has had one since 1957. Southeast Asia has had one since 2003. Southern Africa has had one since 1910. South America has had one since 1969 and is in the process of creating a continentwide free trade area.

North America’s experience with free trade has been mostly negative. Forget Michigan’s bleeding jobs to Mexico; Mexico itself saw its poverty rate skyrocket after the implementation of NAFTA, and the US and Canada are still engaging in trade wars. But that’s only one experience, and dismissing free trade out of hand because of it is disgustingly parochial.

In contrast, Europe’s experience has been largely positive. The idea that the EC (now EU) equaled prosperity drove many undemocratic countries in the region to liberalize in order to join. Free movement of people and goods has prevented the poverty growth seen in Mexico; in the Czech Republic, income at the 5th percentile grew 3.7% between 2004 and 2005. Excluding Luxembourg and Ireland, which have had off-the-charts economic growth, there has been strong evidence of convergence in the last 20 years.

So, a good free trade agreement for North America would take the European approach – that is, free movement of people, customs union, and a common market. The problem is, of course, that farmers in Iowa are going to vote against any politician who suggests Mexican farmers should receive the same subsidies as American farmers; hence, the Western hemisphere keeps producing trade agreements where “free trade” doesn’t extend beyond the title.

27 Responses to Two Experiences with Free Trade

  1. Kristjan Wager says:

    The EU still needs to cut down on farm subsidies though, and open up the borders for trade to outside countries. Why do we make our own sugar from sugar beets, when we could buy cane sugar much cheaper? And the Eu really needs to stop dumping its surplus farm products on 3rd world countries, destroying the local farmers.

    This doesn’t take away from the facts that free trade works within the EU.

    I’m a free trader all the way… You have to be, when you live in a country dependent on raw materials from other countries to manufacture anything.

  2. Alon Levy says:

    Oh, I’m with you on farm subsidies. I’d be a lot happier if the CAP paid farmers what’s standard in Burkina Faso rather than what’s standard in France. In fact, the CAP’s existence is a good argument for the elimination of farm aid, since it demonstrates how free trade works perfectly well when France and Germany can’t dump wheat in Italy.

  3. ballgame says:

    Alon, I categorically and vehemently disagree with you on this subject.

    There is no real reason to dissassemble a perfectly good automotive manufacturing plant in Michigan and relocate it to South Korea — where the goods will now have the additional real (as opposed to monetary) economic cost of traveling thousands of miles by ocean to reach its market other than the fact that wages in South Korea (or China or India or Indonesia etc.) are so much lower than those in the unionized U.S. industry.

    The only way to reign in the rampant and out-of-control powers of corporate entities is to assure that the regulatory field is as large as that in which the bulk of economic transactions take place. If corporations are going to operate outside of the governmental jurisdiction, then treaties and tariffs need to be structured so as to prevent highly mobile Capital from playing ping pong with largely immobile Labor and drive wages to the lowest common denominator.

    We have failed to do this, and to a significant degree that failure is inherent to why we have experienced this.

  4. rod. says:

    Once again, congratulations for an insightful and balanced analysis. As an European, I would say that free trade will eventually benefit all Europe, but in the short term, we have witnessed some nasty things. For example, since Euro became EU’s official currency in January 2002, prices have soared in many places, and that caused many people to lose buying power, of course. I wonder why noone seems to address the fact that Euro did indeed increase inflation…

    Regarding NAFTA, you might wanna take a look at a couple of posts at Martin Varsavsky’s blog:

    http://english.martinvarsavsky.net/new-ideas/donat-build-a-fence-improve-nafta.html
    http://english.martinvarsavsky.net/new-ideas/the-united-states-and-europe-immigration.html

  5. whig says:

    Free trade can only happen between free people, when one or the other is forced to labor under conditions of oppression there is no such thing as free trade between them.

  6. Bushbaptist says:

    In NZ the subsidies were abolished 20yrs ago. Farmers here have to be efficient or go under. That has made us one of the most cost effective farm producers in the world. Yet we still get accused of ‘Dumping’.

    Perhaps it’s time to abolish your subsidies and the EU ones? No politician would ever advocate that though, political suicide!

    According to GM no American lost their jobs with the shift to Mexico. Shows how far out-of-touch the heirachy are.

    Leave the cheap manufacture to India and China and specialise. That is the only option to keep your respective work-forces going.

  7. Alon Levy says:

    There is no real reason to dissassemble a perfectly good automotive manufacturing plant in Michigan and relocate it to South Korea

    There are several. First, it’s possible that the management culture in South Korea is more conducive to profitability. The US encourages psychopathic managers who overwork their employees to a very great extent (though, incidentally, Japan’s as big of an offender as the US there, and South Korea’s even worse). Second, corporations have to pay a significant amount of money for health insurance in the US but not in other developed countries, where the governments provide everyone with insurance.

    Besides, even if it’s just about low wages, that’s a valid reason. It helps corporate profits, and it also redistributes money from the global upper class (i.e. unionized Americans) to the global middle class (i.e. impoverished Mexican or Koreans). Not coincidentally, free trade agreements that aren’t written with shafting the third world in mind promote that kind of redistribution, which is called convergence.

    If corporations are going to operate outside of the governmental jurisdiction, then treaties and tariffs need to be structured so as to prevent highly mobile Capital from playing ping pong with largely immobile Labor and drive wages to the lowest common denominator.

    The solution to that is not to immobilize capital, but to mobilize labor. It’s standard in Britain to rant about Polish immigrants who have right of abode because of EU law, but the fact of the matter is, these immigrants aren’t going away. NAFTA should be similarly modified to open the borders of the entire bloc. Frankly, it’s easier to secure the Mexican border with Guatemala and Belize than the American border with Mexico.

    In NZ the subsidies were abolished 20yrs ago. Farmers here have to be efficient or go under. That has made us one of the most cost effective farm producers in the world. Yet we still get accused of ‘Dumping’.

    That’s good, then. It wouldn’t be the first thing where the US and the EU would do well to learn from New Zealand.

  8. whig says:

    NAFTA should be similarly modified to open the borders of the entire bloc. Frankly, it’s easier to secure the Mexican border with Guatemala and Belize than the American border with Mexico.

    Fascinating, Alon. This is why age is relevant, because I can remember thinking things that older people thought impossible to achieve, and being dismissed as unrealistic.

    Here’s the funny thing, the most unrealistic things can be accomplished if you really believe in them.

    But you should always be conscious of the fact that you do not know everything there is to know about the reasons things are the way they are. You might change your mind several times.

    The most important question to me is whether you are a humanitarian.

  9. whig says:

    Just so you know, my perspective is there should be no borders.

  10. Kristjan Wager says:

    Just so you know, my perspective is there should be no borders.

    There are not many of us, but I agree. I don’t mind nations, but borders I dislike.

  11. Yoram Gat says:

    Your speculation about how “free markets” (if only they would be free enough) would benefit the third world people (at the benefit of first world middle class) runs against available evidence. “Free markets” have only increased inequality within nations, even though internally there are no barriers to the movement of people and there are no tariffs. Why would the global effect be any different?

    By the way, are your “free markets” symmetric? That is, are the third world countries required to abolish any barriers against invasions of, say, first world corporations?

  12. Kristjan Wager says:

    In what sense have free markets increased inequality? Historically, the markets have been non-free, dominated by guilds, monopoly and other barriers, and historically inequality have been much worse than it is now.

  13. Yoram Gat says:

    I am too old for the “free markets” children’s version of economic history – either provide data or spare me.

    The data of taxes (used as a proxy for “free markets” policy) and inequality in the US over the 20th century give a very clear picture – more “free markets”, more inequality:

    http://www.ntu.org/main/page.php?PageID=19
    http://elsa.berkeley.edu/~saez/pikettyqje.pdf

  14. ballgame says:

    Alon, I’m rather startled at your response. I had always assumed you were on the vaguely left/progressive part of the spectrum. You’re clearly much more on the ‘right wing liberal’ end (i.e. liberal in the Milton Friedman/European sense), at least economically.

    If we agree on anything, it’s that the de-industrialization of the U.S. and the shifting of crucial segments of the economy overseas has been motivated by profit-making. Whether any actual efficiencies resulted is highly debatable. Your point about ‘South Korean management culture’ strikes me as both speculative and rather incoherent. (Who says the American management style of overworking your employees isn’t highly profitable??)

    Alon, am I understanding you correctly when you imply that it’s perfectly acceptable in a growing economy to slash living standards for working people — the “global upper class (i.e. unionized Americans)” in your terms, an extremely misleading phraseology — to increase the swelling stock portfolios of the wealthiest people in the world? The fate of Mexican workers under NAFTA provides a cautionary tale that any ensuing rise in standards of living for foreign workers can in fact be an iffy proposition in this process. Since you seem to use ‘profitability’ instead of ‘standard of living’ as your base economic yardstick, should I presume these economic pathologies are a matter of indifference to you?

    Kristjan, the figures cited in belledame’s post which I tried to refer to earlier all point towards growing inequality in American society since the U.S. began running a negative trade balance in the mid and late 1970s. This trade imbalance is partially connected to oil but also due to shifting significant amounts of production overseas … or using the threat of such shifts to extract wage concessions domestically. Declining real wages and increasing concentrations of wealth make it beyond dispute that inequality in the U.S. got worse during this time. This is not a coincidence.

  15. whig says:

    Ballgame, I think the standard education that people get in this country is that profits=good. That’s what the millionaire mainstream media reinforces on the nightly news.

  16. Alon Levy says:

    The data of taxes (used as a proxy for “free markets” policy) and inequality in the US over the 20th century give a very clear picture – more “free markets”, more inequality:

    Inequality isn’t bad. What’s bad is the impoverishment of low-income earners. Not coincidentally, the American economic left has concentrated on the growth in inequality in the last 35 years, but about the fact that wages at the bottom haven’t kept up with inflation.

    Besides, taxes are a pretty bad indicator of capitalism. In the 1950s, the US had high marginal tax rates (which every rich person with a three-figure IQ could dodge). But it also opened its markets to Western European products, even though most Western European countries were low-income and low-wage by American standards. The German economic miracle was spurred not just by import replacement, but also by export-oriented production.

    I had always assumed you were on the vaguely left/progressive part of the spectrum. You’re clearly much more on the ‘right wing liberal’ end (i.e. liberal in the Milton Friedman/European sense), at least economically.

    Not exactly. I’m more of a Krugmanite than a Friedmanite. My approach to international development is informed by Amartya Sen a lot more than by Thomas Friedman. I’m very much into global integration and free trade, it’s true, but I think NAFTA-style agreements should be torn up and replaced with EU-style ones. It’ll be good for Mexico to form a common market with South America and levy tariffs on American farm products even if the US retaliates by cracking down on offshoring, NAFTA is that destructive.

    When I was on Democratic Underground, one of the regulars, Martin Schreader, was some official with the Socialist Party and a communist to boot. But even as he supported a marginal income tax of 100% on income above $100,000/year, he was enthusiastically pro-EU and pro-globalization on the grounds that “It means not just a united capitalist class, but also a united working class and globalized unions.”

    Your point about ‘South Korean management culture’ strikes me as both speculative and rather incoherent. (Who says the American management style of overworking your employees isn’t highly profitable??)

    The American management style started as profitable, but is now reaching irrational proportions. I’ve seen some references to studies documenting that for massive layoffs – i.e. that American corporations have become so fond of layoffs that they do them even when it hurts profitability. I also know that Japan, which the US copied the idea of overworking workers from, is now moving away from it apparently because it’s not working so well anymore.

    Alon, am I understanding you correctly when you imply that it’s perfectly acceptable in a growing economy to slash living standards for working people — the “global upper class (i.e. unionized Americans)” in your terms, an extremely misleading phraseology — to increase the swelling stock portfolios of the wealthiest people in the world? The fate of Mexican workers under NAFTA provides a cautionary tale that any ensuing rise in standards of living for foreign workers can in fact be an iffy proposition in this process.

    I don’t think you can really gauge what happens under free trade by looking at it. The “free trade” in NAFTA is about as relevant as the “truth” in the Ministry of Truth. Countries that enter into equal free trade agreements, such as those that created the European Economic Community, don’t see the same negative consequences for workers that Mexico did. I don’t think any country’s poverty rate increased immediately after accession to the EU, except maybe Greece’s.

    Kristjan, the figures cited in belledame’s post which I tried to refer to earlier all point towards growing inequality in American society since the U.S. began running a negative trade balance in the mid and late 1970s.

    The problem with that is that a lot of countries that run trade surpluses see similar rises in inequality. Singapore has a trade surplus; it also has a higher Gini index than the US, and has seen reductions in even the nominal income of the bottom 20% in the last ten years. China and Russia, whose levels of inequality are rising, similarly run trade surpluses. Japan, whose Gini index is lurching upward even though it’s way lower than in most other developed countries, hasn’t had a trade deficit since 1980 (link to data).

  17. Yoram Gat says:

    Inequality isn’t bad.

    In my mind inequality is bad (if for no other reason, because inequality opens the door for exploitation), but that’s beside the point. Your argument is that “free markets” would improve the quality of life in the third world by transfering wealth from the first world middle class to the third world. This hypothetical process would reduce inequality. I pointed out that if this happens, it would an exception to the rule observed within states.

    [T]axes are a pretty bad indicator of capitalism.

    I don’t find your argument very convincing, but in the spirit of open-minded discussion, I am willing to entertain alternative indicators. Any suggestions?

    P.S. You have not replied whether you advocate first world-third world symmetry in “free markets”.

  18. Alon Levy says:

    This hypothetical process would reduce inequality. I pointed out that if this happens, it would an exception to the rule observed within states.

    No, it would provide an exception to the rule that you get if you define markets in terms of unequal agreements and tax cuts. The EEC didn’t increase even within-country inequality, and played a role in decreasing between-country inequality.

    I don’t find your argument very convincing, but in the spirit of open-minded discussion, I am willing to entertain alternative indicators. Any suggestions?

    Not really, since domestically taxes are a fairly good indicator. Internationally, the best indicator is tariffs; other forms of protectionism, like subsidies and quotas, can be converted to equivalent tariffs. But there is no causal link between the fact that the US subsidizes its agriculture less than Japan and the EU and the fact that it has higher inequality, so by the same token you have to also ignore internal Gini indices.

    P.S. You have not replied whether you advocate first world-third world symmetry in “free markets”.

    No, I don’t really. Frankly, I don’t think it matters that much; production costs in the third world are so much lower that in almost all cases, the only way first-world countries can penetrate third-world markets is by handing out export subsidies.

    In trade, I advocate two different policies. One is the spurring of import replacement via a ban on subsidized dumping. If that turns out to be insufficient I’ll start supporting scrapping trade agreements, but I don’t think it will. The other is the spurring of export-based production via unilateral tariff reduction.

  19. ballgame says:

    Inequality isn’t bad. What’s bad is …

    … inequality based on inherited wealth instead of personal productivity. I don’t think your assertion about “the left” (who? wha?) only being concerned with what happens to the bottom of the pile and not the middle (if indeed that was what you were trying to say) is true, but it’s frankly not particularly relevant even if it were.

    The German economic miracle was spurred not just by import replacement, but also by export-oriented production.

    Yes … as was/is China’s, India’s, Japan’s, South Korea’s and Singapore’s.

    My approach to international development is informed by Amartya Sen a lot more than by Thomas Friedman.

    Uh, you do realize I said Milton Friedman, right? Although it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Thomas pretty much bought into Milton’s economic world view.

    Your description of ‘socialist/communist’ Martin Schreader makes him sound a bit daffy to me, and I certainly don’t subscribe to his point of view.

    The American management style started as profitable, but is now reaching irrational proportions. I’ve seen some references to studies documenting that for massive layoffs – i.e. that American corporations have become so fond of layoffs that they do them even when it hurts profitability.

    I’m familiar with those studies. The problem is, the phenomenon of layoffs is NOT the same thing as overworking your employees, though they are related. You can have one without the other. I would argue that most Americans are overworked, and the reason they are overworked is that corporations find it very profitable to do so. You have not rebutted that assertion.

    You’ll have to be a bit more specific about what, exactly, makes NAFTA a ‘non-representative’ case for free trade discussions. Also, whether any European nation’s poverty rate went up “immediately” after accession to the EU is far less relevant to my point than whether the standard of living for the majority of people goes up or down relative to the economic growth rate over the next couple of years. There is a real reason why millions of French people rebelled against the EU constitution … they correctly sensed it was part of an emerging onslaught against things like shorter work weeks, job protections, and other important benefits that French workers were able to achieve over the years.

    The problem with that is that a lot of countries that run trade surpluses see similar rises in inequality.

    I never said that trade surpluses were incompatible with growing inequality. (Of course, it’s not a coincidence that the examples you cite tend to be either structurally undemocratic or corrupt.) My point was just the opposite. It is very difficult to lessen inequality AND maintain a growing economy when you run significant trade deficits for an extended period of time.

  20. Yoram Gat says:
    This hypothetical process would reduce inequality. I pointed out that if this happens, it would an exception to the rule observed within states.

    No, it would provide an exception to the rule that you get if you define markets in terms of unequal agreements and tax cuts.

    As I already mentioned, the within-state situation is your ideal “free trade” zone – no tariffs or barriers on movement. Inequality (and impoverishment) within countries is increased when those same policies that you advocate are introduced. This is the rule. Two (NAFTA and EU) examples can hardly be thought of as being a reasonable basis for inducing any rule.

    Also, your argument regarding the EU is quite weak. For one thing, the EU is much more, and much less, than a no-tariff and a free labor movement zone – differential agricultural subsidies are still going strong within the EU, for example. Secondly, whether or not the main effect of joining the EU is a “free trade” effect, the way to measure the EU effect is by comparing countries that joined the EU to similar countries that didn’t, not by comparing the Czech Republic to Mexico.

    [T]axes are a pretty bad indicator of capitalism

    [T]axes are a fairly good indicator [of capitalism]

    It is really quite hard to carry on a productive discussion this way.

    P.S. You have not replied whether you advocate first world-third world symmetry in “free markets”.

    No, I don’t really. Frankly, I don’t think it matters that much

    If you are not in favor of symmetry, then you are not really a “free markets” advocate. You are just in favor of providing the third world countries with some form – a peculiar, restricted form – of assistance.

    As for the the claim that symmetry doesn’t matter: first world corporations are making very nice profits off of resources extracted from third world countries – labor and natural resources. This type of exploitation is probably much more destructive than dumping cheap commodities. What do you think, for example, about Bolivia nationalizing the gas industry?

  21. Yoram Gat says:

    Apparently, blockquote doesn’t nest. Sorry.

  22. Alon Levy says:

    If you are not in favor of symmetry, then you are not really a “free markets” advocate. You are just in favor of providing the third world countries with some form – a peculiar, restricted form – of assistance.

    It’s less peculiar and restricted than you think. Direct aid is harder to hand out than it seems. It’s often wasted on bureaucracy and tends not to fuel any local economic development. There’s a reason anti-poverty organizations all the way up to the UN focus on tariffs and debt relief in addition to normal money transfers.

    The problem with the “free markets” vs. “no free markets” formulation is that it has too little to do with the subject. I don’t really care if socialist theory is right about symmetry or not, since I find it a crock of shit in general. Semantic issues have nothing to do with whether first-world governments should stop handing out obscene amounts of money to domestic agriculture and levying tariffs on third-world textiles.

    Uh, you do realize I said Milton Friedman, right? Although it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Thomas pretty much bought into Milton’s economic world view.

    Yes. But I’m more familiar with Thomas’s views on globalization, and domestically, he’s way to the left of Milton. The World is Flat basically endorses the non-protectionist parts of the liberal-Democratic economic agenda: universal health care, higher minimum wages, more education spending, corporate regulations. He’s only that neo-liberal on international development and globalization.

    The problem is, the phenomenon of layoffs is NOT the same thing as overworking your employees, though they are related. You can have one without the other. I would argue that most Americans are overworked, and the reason they are overworked is that corporations find it very profitable to do so.

    The reasons I think it’s unlikely are that a) Japan is moving away from that model after having experimented with it for 20-odd years, and that b) the situation with layoffs already establishes that American corporations aren’t always rational.

    You’ll have to be a bit more specific about what, exactly, makes NAFTA a ‘non-representative’ case for free trade discussions.

    I don’t know if it’s representative or not, but, basically, it’s just a free trade agreement. It requires the US, Canada, and Mexico to completely open up their markets and resources to one another’s corporations. It doesn’t say anything about government subsidies of industries, even about export subsidies. It also has some provisions about corporate regulations, but I don’t think any of them is as obscene as CAFTA’s clause that allows corporations to sue countries for regulating them in ways that reduce profits.

    In contrast, the EEC was a customs union with a coordinated agricultural policy from day one. It not only abolished intra-EEC tariffs, but also stipulated that each member state had to levy the same tariffs on other countries’ goods, and established a common money pool for farm subsidies. The establishment of the EEC was followed by an increase in quality of life in all member states, and Ireland, Spain, and Portugal all saw a marked uptick in economic growth after accession (about growth at the bottom I honestly don’t know).

    There is a real reason why millions of French people rebelled against the EU constitution … they correctly sensed it was part of an emerging onslaught against things like shorter work weeks, job protections, and other important benefits that French workers were able to achieve over the years.

    Ironically, Royal supports reinstating the 40-hour workweek and is hailed in the media as a Blairite reformer. Sarkozy goes as far as describing himself as a liberal (i.e. economic rightist, and not necessarily a civil libertarian), even though the word has an even more negative connotation in France than in the US.

  23. Kristjan Wager says:

    I am too old for the “free markets” children’s version of economic history – either provide data or spare me.

    The data of taxes (used as a proxy for “free markets” policy) and inequality in the US over the 20th century give a very clear picture – more “free markets”, more inequality:

    You can’t use taxes as a proxy for “free markets” policy – look inside the EU. There is a vast difference between the tax levels in different EU countries.

    Looking at the two links you provided, the first doesn’t address inequality at all – it shows the tax brackets in the US, but doesn’t give any numbers of how many falls into either category. The second does deal with inequality, but doesn’t deal with free trade at all.

    Unless you can somehow explain why taxes should be considered a proxy for free trade (something the data doesn’t seem to indicate), then you haven’t shown how free trade leads to inequality.

    Oh, and you don’t have to give me “the “free markets” children’s version of economic history” – I can understand the grown-ups’ version. Also, you started out making claims about a correlation between free trade and inequity – before demanding data, you should provide data supporting your own position (the data you have provided doesn’t support it, except if you can provide data supporting the idea that taxes are a proxy for free trade).

  24. Yoram Gat says:

    Direct aid is harder to hand out than it seems. It’s often wasted on bureaucracy and tends not to fuel any local economic development.

    … while, one assumes (or dogma asserts), the invisible hand distributes “free trade” money to exactly where it is needed most.

    Any data to show that “free markets” are better at distributing welfare than direct aid? Again, if that were the case, it would be the exception to the rule observed within nations.

  25. Alon Levy says:

    Any data to show that “free markets” are better at distributing welfare than direct aid?

    Debt interest payments are forcing third-world countries to increase taxes and lower spending. Rich country subsidies reduce employment in third-world countries.

    Do you have any data to show that direct aid ever helps a country grow? I’m not talking about stopgap measures like efforts to combat diseases, or emergency food aid during famine. I’m talking about medium-term aid; is there any evidence that ever helps reduce poverty or spur economic development?

  26. Kristjan Wager says:

    I’m talking about medium-term aid; is there any evidence that ever helps reduce poverty or spur economic development?

    The Marshall Aid is generally considered a succes.

  27. Yoram Gat says:

    First, I agree that any debts by third world countries to first world countries (or to first world dominated institutions such as the world bank) should be cancelled – those debts are part of the exploitation of the third world, through “free market” policies.

    Regarding the efficacy of direct aid: Again, the experience within countries shows that it is direct aid (programs such as free healthcare, free education, welfare, infrastructure construction, etc.), rather than “free markets” policies, that increase the standard of living for the bulk of the population. While it may be harder to arrange such programs in a third world country, there is no reason to believe that they would not be effective there as well.

    There are not many large scale, long term direct aid efforts by the first world in the third world, so success stories (or failures) cannot be expected to be numerous. One case that does come to mind is the food-for-oil program. This program, which was not a short term effort – it lasted 6 years, was successful in raising the standard of living of the Iraqi population.

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