Why don’t we have more free trade?
I remain amazed that we have as much free trade as we do. Here is from a recent Pew poll:
President Barack Obama and other world leaders are having a tough time selling the benefits of the trade agreements they’re negotiating, in part because much of the public thinks all the talk about trade’s benefits is a bunch of baloney.
Out of 44 nationalities surveyed this year, only one — Israelis — tends to believe the basic tenet of economists that increased trade will foster competition and deliver lower prices for consumers.
On a broader question of whether increasing trade and business ties with other countries is a good thing, only 68% of Americans agree, compared with 76% worldwide, according to the study released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center.
The Pew study itself is here and it is interesting throughout. It is in Bangladesh, Uganda, and Lebanon that people are most likely to believe trade raises real wages, and Bangladeshis are most sympathetic to foreign direct investment. Only 28% of Americans believe it is good when foreigners buy up U.S. companies. 58% of Chinese think trade leads to price increases, perhaps a sign of the prevalence of foreign luxury goods in that country.
For the pointer I thank Ray Lopez, who himself benefits from free trade, factor mobility, and foreign direct investment.