Most of the current presidential candidates have been making sweeping negative statements about US agreements for freer trade. Both Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders have made this opposition a main talking point. While Trump talks about “losing to every country” that has out-bargained us, Sanders prides himself on having voting against every “disastrous” free trade agreement because they lead to American job loss and declining earnings.
The reality of trade is much more complex. While trade does contribute to job loss and lower earnings, its effect is much smaller than many believe. And those negatives are offset by clear gains, both for the United States and other countries. A real debate on trade should look at winners and losers and compare the effects of trade for each.