The US Elections Explained: Trade Policy

This video is a great supplement to our discussion on the U.S. trade policy this week. To be noted, the next president’s trade policy will affect millions of Americans, as well as the health and competitiveness of the country’s economy. Done right, trade policy can also advance strategic interests like strengthening the economies of allies, deepening diplomatic ties, and promoting global cooperation that acts as a bulwark against conflict.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on the video, including any points you agree, disagree or find interesting. Additional resources that can facilitate the discussion are also welcome.

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Author: Sheng Lu

Professor @ University of Delaware

16 thoughts on “The US Elections Explained: Trade Policy”

  1. It seems easy to pin NAFTA as a scapegoat for any loss of jobs or economic complication in the U.S. Sometimes, it seems that the only way to make progress is to castrate one particular agreement. Unfortunately, the variety and depth of such agreements is great and vast, which is to say they are messier than meets the eye. It would be counterproductive to oversimplify the problem. It would due Americans well to acknowledge the complex nature of our treaties and maintain a receptive and informed mindset.

  2. I found it really interesting when the women said, “Trade policy plays well on campaign trail but then voters follow it very little once the election is over.” Why do you think this is? I believe if we show interest in trade during the election, we as Americans need to continue to care after the election.

    I also believe one of the main problems with trade is people tend to see the negatives of trade before they see the positives. They feel the repercussions of losing factory jobs more then they feel the benefits of paying ten cents less on the t-shirt they are buying.

    1. I believe the reason we lose focus of trade deals after the election is because of their complexity. Candidates can say they will fix a trade deal, or eliminate it completely, but that is a very complex process. NAFTA keeps the U.S. textile industry alive, but other industries also lose jobs because of it, so deciding the change the agreement affects many segments of the economy. A candidate may say on the campaign trail that they will ratify an agreement, but once in office they will have a much more difficult time implementing it and people start to lose sight of what the original goal was.

      1. Interestingly, I find the debate on trade continues after this election. It is of grave concerns that Trump might truly “keep his promise” and withdraw NAFTA, kill TPP and trigger a trade war with China…

  3. I also thought that it was very interesting that the woman said that trade policy isn’t really followed up on by voters after the election is over. Do you think that Americans are going to be more concerned with trade deals and trade policies this time around since it was such a huge part of Trumps campaign promises?

  4. Interesting how they brought up McCain’s statement saying that the jobs lost due to NAFTA were not coming back. He never thought to mention that since the simple jobs were going over seas there were more jobs becoming available with the technical and capital and heavy area that controlled those “no skills necessary” jobs. That being said, Trump wants to bring back those jobs to the US. Could this mean a slow down in technical growth as people could train to be on machines verses computers?

  5. I think its interesting to see how NAFTA has affected certain countries. The women talks about how voters follow trade policy very little after the election is over, I think some people just focus on the controversy that deals with NAFTA and TPP, but some don’t actually know the contents of these trade agreements and how complex they really are. The US has a big domestic market, and its important for people to see the positive outcomes of trade and how it helps our economy.

  6. I found this video to be extremely interesting. It is very accurate when the women says that trade policy is an issue that voters pay little attention to unless the political figures are discussing it- when an election is occurring. This is accurate because I found that I knew little about trade policies such as the TPP or NAFTA/CAFTA before taking this class. It is a very complex topic. In addition it was interesting to hear how important trade is in all countries, and how important it is to respect every countries policies. I did not realize how many trade agreements the US has with such a wide variety of countries.

  7. I thought it was notable how the lady from the LSE explained that Americans who have experienced losses in manufacturing and politicians “can easily demonize trade agreements,” especially since international trade policy can improve global relations and help promote the U.S. economy. Indeed, these agreements can stimulate the growth of higher paying jobs besides manufacturing (just as global sourcing supports design and merchandising in the U.S.). I also agree with @jluetje that “Americans [should] acknowledge the complex nature of our treaties and maintain a receptive and informed mindset”.

    1. very true! After watching the video, I strongly agree that more efforts need to be made to help the general public, AS WELL AS the media better understand international trade in the 21st century.

  8. One point that was brought up in the video that I had not thought of in the past regarding trade, was that in order for other countries to not discriminate again US exports, the US must not discriminate against other countries’ exports. I think this is important for people to think about when debating the TPP because people must be reminded that if we close ourselves off and limit trade, our economy will suffer. The reason that we have such a strong economy has to do with the amount of trade we do with the rest of the world. By not implementing the TPP and even altering NAFTA, we will greatly disrupt trade with other countries and possibly bring about bad blood between us and other countries that was not there in the past.

  9. It’s interesting to see how many different opinions people have on NAFTA. Overall people perceive the NAFTA agreement based on how it has affected them, either well or terribly. Trade agreements have been a major topic of discussion during the 2016 election and the woman speaking was right about the people not following up on what was going on post-election. I think that people need to realize the extent of which this effects our country and get a better understanding of the topic.

  10. It is certainly interesting to see how voters are easy to jump the gun on blaming FTAs such as NAFTA for American job loss. When an election occurs, voters only try to understand the surface of trade policies. Its complex and is not easy to explain to the public that outsourcing is the most opportunistic decision. Is there a way to educate the voter on foreign trade while providing higher education to those who have lost their jobs?

    1. Indeed, it is critical to help the general public understand the truth of trade, although it is not an easy task. Sometimes, people just take it for granted. Maybe we can take away free trade from them for a while (eg: an experiment to ask people to make a living based on made in usa products only). I am sure their view on trade will fundamentally change.

  11. I found this video to be interesting because it highlights a very important issue that I do not think many people consider when discussing the election and trade policies. Many Americans do not take the time to fully understand the complexity of trade agreements and immediately assume the worst such as loss of domestic jobs to overseas. Before I took FASH455, I heard a lot about the debate on trade and thought that it would be a good thing to focus more on bringing jobs back to America. However, after taking the course and becoming more educated on trade, I understand all of the benefits that trade agreements have on the economy and jobs. It is easy for people to point fingers at something they don’t understand, especially when the advertising of politics can portray something in a completely different way. How can we do a better job of educating the general public on the details of trade policies so that they can understand the purpose of trade agreements and see all of the benefits of trade on the economy?

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