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Record High Number of Americans See Trade as Economic Opportunity

Thursday, March 02, 2017
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

A recent Gallup poll found that nearly three-quarters of Americans see foreign trade as an opportunity for U.S. economic growth, a major increase over the figures registered for the past 20 years. In addition, 71 percent said promoting favorable trade is a very important foreign policy goal for the U.S., up from 66 percent in 2013. These findings could bode well for whatever trade liberalization initiatives the Trump administration may pursue.

According to Gallup, 72 percent of respondents to an annual world affairs survey said they view trade favorably, up from 58 percent just a year ago. The percentage of those who see trade as a threat to the U.S. economy dropped from 34 to 23 percent over the same period. The survey also found record-high views that trade represents an economic opportunity among both Democrats (80 percent, up from 63 percent in 2016) and Republicans (66 percent, up from 50 percent).

A Gallup press release notes that these figures have jumped despite the often negative characterization of U.S. trade deals during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. For Democrats the change “may be a sort of rebellion” against the “anti-trade pronouncements” of President Trump, who has withdrawn the U.S. from the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiated under President Obama, pledged to revamp NAFTA, and decried the “unfair” results of other U.S. free trade agreements. On the other hand, the press release states, support among Republicans may be due to a belief that U.S. trade will flourish under Trump, who has asserted his intention to pursue bilateral trade agreements that he believes will result in more favorable terms for the U.S.

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