Magazine article International Trade Forum

Has Public Support for Free Trade Reached Its Peak?

Magazine article International Trade Forum

Has Public Support for Free Trade Reached Its Peak?

Article excerpt

A recent survey in the United States and Europe indicates the challenge facing communicators in turning support for trade into further lowering of trade barriers.

According to the German Marshall Fund of the United States, in all six countries it surveyed in 2005 and 2006, people's views on globalization are more favourable compared to last year. Majorities in each country favour foreign companies investing in their markets. Most people in Europe also support lowering tariffs and other trade barriers.

So far so good. But 55% of people questioned in France and 31% in the United States do not favour freer trade, because of fears over job losses and competition.

Perspectives on Trade and Poverty Reduction, a survey of transatlantic public opinion now in its third year, shows that most Americans and Europeans appreciate the economic benefits of free trade and believe it contributes to democracy, global stability and prosperity.

But when asked about the impact of freer trade on jobs and businesses, many remain anxious about import dependency, and most are concerned about competing against China's growing economic power.

Skills gap is a worry

When it comes to meeting the competitive challenge, the vast majority (94%) of Americans and Europeans believes that investing in education, job training and technology comes before pro-business tax and regulation reforms (74%), trade and foreign direct investment promotion (64% and 70%), or making it easier to hire and fire workers (49%).

Aid for trade is a win-win

Three out of four surveyed are keen to promote trade with poor countries, a level of approval that is in line with transatlantic support for development assistance. …

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