The United States and International Trade

International trade is the process of exchanging goods, services, and capital between countries and regions. The United States has had a long history of trade with nations all over the world and constantly act as the main component of global trade today. According to the U.S Department of Commerce, the U.S. is the world’s largest exporter of goods and services, with over 2.3 trillion export revenue in 2014 (U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 2018). However, the United States - once the greatest trades evangelist, is now starting to question the trades political merit. Donald Trump’s election campaign has effectively tapped into the constituents’ hostility towards free trade, specifically in the Rust Belt (America famous manufacturing belt). It seems rather confusing - a wealthy country with a conventionally liberal idealism would be opposed to the concept of trade.

Trade liberalism

The U.S., for many decades, had been the world's largest global trader and a major advocate on the liberal free-trade ideology. The United States many years agreed that economic aggregate from global free markets is advantageous to their own economic interests. Free trade increases prosperity for Americans—and the citizens of all participating nations—by allowing consumers to buy more, better-quality products at lower costs. This ripple effect leads to the economic interdependence between nations while also facilitates development and peace around the world. It increases access to much higher quality, lower priced goods, due to inflationary pressure, especially with China and Mexico. In the case of the business sector, it creates competitiveness, requiring the market to constantly adapt to the shifting demand of worldwide market place. It made fairness a global standard, when everyone follows the same rule-based system, created a virtue common sense of conscience. Last but not least is the innovation and efficiency, free trade creates an international environment where workers constantly shifts and resources are traded for more novelty and productive usage.

Protectionism and hegemonic stability

In recent years, U.S. manufacturing area, Rust Belt has witnessed a recessive economic decline over the past half-century, plummeted by the year 2000 (Austin, 2018). As a result, a political narrative that talks up the benefits of free trade were introduced, it stated that free-trade was destroying the capacity for many to put food on the table. Under high tension of high tariffs, the reduction of jobs, it generated the phenomenon of dissatisfaction with free trade in the U.S. While this was happening, more and more foreign policies in opposition to free trade were introduced, leading to the era of anti-free trade. This resulted in the withdrawal from many bilateral agreements, and the introduction of higher tariffs. The United States, the crux of the economic and political security system on which the world had relied for more than three-quarters of a century is now gone. The wreckage of Mr. Trump’s approach to foreign policy continues to pile up across Asia and around the world. Some parts of the world are wrestling with a longer-term retreat of American power. The tit-for-tat battle over sanctions between the US and China could undermine growth in the euro area and leave US tariffs at their highest level for half a century. In international trade, the high tariff will lead to GDP losing 365.1 billion in value, 2.75 million jobs will be lost, lost of production is 915$ per person in the market (Watson, 2018). The introduction of anti-free-trade notion has led to the paralysis of future investment. This is a real consequence of human nature, slowing down growth, many jobs disappearing, lack of capital investment for new businesses. Slowly and surely, the damage will spread. In the end, is it worth to blame everything towards the concept of free trade or trade liberalism? Or is it the fault of redistribution capacity where the U.S is too hegemonic which affected the stability of other nations? Is the U.S saving its economic deficit or is its foreign policy the product of xenophobia? Everything has its way, but a careful discussion is required to give a better conclusion.



Austin, J. C. (2018, March 6). Brookings. From Brookings Education:

U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (2018, June 17). U.S. Chamber of Commerce. From U.S. Chamber of Commerce International Policy:

Watson, P. W. (2018, December 20). Forbes. From Forbes Money: