“Free trade” seems to be in deep trouble in the United States, with serious implications for the rest of the world.
Opposition to free trade or trade agreements emerged as a big theme among the leading American presidential candidates.
Donald Trump attacked cheap imports especially from China and threatened to raise tariffs. Hillary Clinton criticised the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) which she once championed, and Bernie Sanders’ opposition to free trade agreements (FTAs) helped him win in many states before the New York primary.
That trade became such a hot topic in the campaigns reflects a strong anti-free trade sentiment on the ground.
Almost six million jobs were lost in the US manufacturing sector from 1999 to 2011.
Wages have remained stagnant while the incomes of the top one per cent of Americans have shot up.
Rightly or wrongly, many Americans blame these problems on US trade policy and FTAs.