By: DAVID MARK
A protectionist push by the Trump administration hasn’t diminished support for free trade, a Morning Consult poll for the Bloomberg Global Business Forum shows.
Fifty-two percent of the 2,094 adults polled in the United States say they support expansion of free trade across borders. Within that group, 18 percent said they “strongly support” free trade, and 34 percent said they “somewhat support” it. Seventeen percent said they “somewhat oppose” free trade across borders, and 8 percent “strongly oppose” it.
Almost a quarter of adults surveyed said they don’t know or have no opinion, according to the poll conducted Sept. 12 through Sept. 14.
More Americans rank free trade as having a positive effect on the U.S. economy than any other potentially disruptive factor tested in the poll, such as globalization or automation.
“Even one basic economics class shows that free trade is a way to maximize consumer welfare for all,” David Kass, professor of finance at the University of Maryland School of Business, said in a phone interview Friday. “There are always winners and losers, of course. But I think the majority of people have seen the benefits of free trade over recent years and decades.”
The public’s favorable views on free trade stand in contrast with prevailing approaches to the issue during the first eight months of Donald Trump’s presidency. Trump ran successfully in 2016 on a trade-skeptical platform, and he’s pushed to enact policies along those lines since taking office.
In January, Trump signed an executive order withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the 12-nation trade deal negotiated during the Obama administration but never ratified by Congress. Trump has also threatened to pull the United States out of the North American Free Trade Agreement if the nearly quarter-century trade pact with Canada and Mexico isn’t renegotiated on what he calls more favorable terms.
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