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<>< Josh Rule : : 2008 MCPP Intern
BBC News just put up an article about eBay’s recent work to open up international trading restrictions, particularly within the European Union. Current law makes it difficult, if not illegal, to trade goods across international borders as an online vendor. Accordingly, traditional vendors are working to see these laws enforced to curtail online trading. They do not want the extra competition deregulated online trading would bring. eBay, though, has denounced these trading restrictions and promotes a system in which goods can be freely traded online, regardless of either the buyer or the seller’s geographical location.
eBay’s work, whether it succeeds or fails, is a great move for liberty. If it fails to change trading legislation, it at least puts a well-known company in the public eye as pro free-trade. If it succeeds, however, markets will expand. Supply and demand will be more accurately realized, because no one will be legally restrained from trading across the borders of the EU. Small, fragmented markets will be able to coalesce into larger markets, creating even more effective trading structures than we have now. One caution, though, is that eBay seems to propose the complete abolition of market segmentation, but as we have talked about here at Trying Liberty, voluntary segmentation in the form of zone pricing can be a good thing. What is not good is the government forcing markets to segment and prohibiting trades companies might otherwise have made.
So, more is at stake here than simply the number of auctions eBay hosts. What the company is calling for is the liberation of the markets inside the EU – the expansion and deregulation of online trade throughout Europe. For people in favor of liberty and free trade, eBay’s current move is one we should endorse.