Alexander, Elmore R. (2018). NAFTA, Globalization and Free Trade: Can the U.S. Maintain Leadership in the World Economy?. Bridgewater Review, 37(1), 11-15.
Available at: http://vc.bridgew.edu/br_rev/vol37/iss1/5
In 2002 in an MBA course on global management at Philadelphia University, I identified competitive congressional races where globalization was relevant. The students developed comprehensive analyses of the candidates’ positions and understanding of globalization. The candidates judged by the students to understand globalization the best lost every race.
This is the quandary of globalization—it involves complex issues that neither political leaders nor the general public completely understand. While 70 percent of Americans think it is important to buy US products, 37 percent would refuse to pay more for a US product. In reality, international trade has been a positive force since World War II. Trade has expanded, global living standards have improved dramatically, and millions world-wide have escaped poverty. Nevertheless, international trade is constantly attacked—every candidate (Republican and Democratic) in the recent presidential election questioned trade policies. The most vociferous attacks came from President Trump as he labeled the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) the worst trade agreement ever negotiated.
Can we reconcile positive effects of trade since World War II with current sentiment? More importantly, are we headed to protectionism comparable to the experience of the Great Depression?