Mapping the Way to a Global Free-Trade Deal

Issue 06-04-12   |   Reviewer:   Duane Helleloid, Ph.D.


Most nations like the idea of free trade, but at the same time want to protect certain domestic industries that would be harmed by freer trade. Agriculture is a sticking point for many countries, as most every country wants to be assured that it has sufficient local food sources to feed its population, even if this means higher costs and taxpayer-financed subsidies.

The United States, in addition to protecting agriculture, has also historically tried to support at least a minimal domestic textile, clothing, and footwear industry (although most of U.S. residents would be hard pressed to find many Made in the U.S.A. labels in their closets). Among other things, Canada protects dairy and poultry products, and China protects state-owned companies with policies that favor local firms in government procurement.

Currently the U.S. is working with eight other Pacific Rim countries to close a deal to increase trade, and each country will likely have to give up some things that it holds dear. Both Canada and Mexico have expressed interest in joining the negotiations, but so far have been excluded due to concerns over what they would want excluded from the deal. The goal is to have some sort of agreement by year end, but at this point it is too early to tell if an agreement can be reached.

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