The criterion for the prosperity of a country is not its exports but its imports.

Henry Ashworth, translated by Frédéric Bastiat
Complete Works, Volume 3, pages 275 to 281 (in French)
Covent Garden, February 28th 1844

The speech translated from this meeting on February 28th is that of Henry Ashworth who was one of the founders of the League and the owner of a cotton manufacture in Bolton near Manchester. He exposes the injustice of protection for the landlords and shows that their protection is part of the inputs of industrial production. Concerning the cotton industry, it was exporting 85% of its production while agriculture had become exclusively domestic  because of the Corn Laws – he shows that, economically, this means that the landlords shed the burden of commercial export difficulties towards the manufacturers.

He also exposes some sophisms of the protectionists and this is the topic of today’s quote. Here, he does not say anything else that exports are a cost and imports a benefit of international trade. This may seem a bit repetitive but since Adam Smith explained the phenomenon, one can still observe politicians and, even sometimes, economists who still have not understood this. Therefore, it is appropriate to insist on this point.

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