Thursday, July 03, 2008

Foreign Trade as 'Threat to the Economy'

“What do you think that foreign trade means for America? Do you see foreign trade more as an opportunity for economic growth through increased U.S. exports or a threat to the economy from foreign imports?”

In response to that question, 51 percent of Americans said that foreign trade is “a threat to the economy,” according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll toward the end of June. It was the first time in 12 CNN polls since 1992 that a majority of Americans reported a negative view of trade.

In the June poll, 41 percent – a 16-year low -- rated foreign trade as “an opportunity for economic growth.” Four percent volunteered that it was “neither”; 2 percent, “both.”

The poll listed 15 issues and asked respondents to rank them according to their importance in choosing the President in November. “The economy” was tops, with 58 percent deeming it “extremely important.”

CNN’s July 1 news report on the poll was headlined “Majority against free trade,” although the survey question referred to foreign trade. Questions about “free trade” in recent polls have been similarly negative. The CNN poll, phrased more generally, may mean that the public suspicion of free trade is morphing into something more serious.

For the results of a Pew Research Center poll on this issue in April, see “More Bad News about Globalization.”

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