Reports that Americans are becoming increasingly hostile to trade are greatly exaggerated.
The French Institute of Public Opinion (IFOP) recently polled people in several countries to compare their attitudes on trade and economics. Asked whether international trade is good for the United States or bad, Americans were 50 percent more likely to answer “good” than “bad.” The U.S. survey found the following opinions:
- The development of international trade is rather a good thing for our country: 39 percent.
- The development of international trade is rather a bad thing for our country: 26 percent.
- Neither one nor the other: 35 percent.
Last November, a Pew Research Center poll found that most Americans believe increased trade with Canada, Japan, European Union countries, Brazil, or Mexico would be good for the United States. Support for increased trade with South Korea and China was within the poll’s margin of error.
The popular view that trade benefits the United States is correct. As data from The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom show, countries with low trade barriers are more likely to prosper than those that restrict international commerce.
Although the Pew poll found skepticism about free trade agreements, the assertion that international trade is bad for the United States clearly remains a losing proposition with Americans.