The Washington Post: A lot of people want to restrict free trade. But that would have serious trade-offs.

05/24/2016

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May 24th, 2016 | By: Allison Carnegle

Both sides in the presidential race have attacked U.S. bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements. Hillary Clinton says that NAFTA needs “fixing,” Bernie Sanders calls for ending our “disastrous” trade agreements and Donald Trump wants to take every “unfair” trade agreement and either “renegotiate it” or “break it” so that the United States will “win with our trade deals.” All three candidates have called for violating international law by raising taxes (known as tariffs) on goods that the United States buys from other countries.

Even though most economists believe that free tradeincreases efficiency and makes citizens better off overall, they also acknowledge that the benefits of trade are not evenly distributed. In other words, trade agreements create both winners and losers. For example, many corporations have moved their operations overseas to places where goods can be manufactured cheaply. Although consumers can now buy less expensive goods, some Americans have lost their jobs as a result of these agreements.

 

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