This November’s election centers on a pressing question: do voters want to “Make America Great Again,” or become “Stronger Together?” While neither of these campaign slogans seems to focus on fiscal spending on the international scale, both provide significant insights as to how the next President of the United States will approach trade with foreign partners.
As global markets continue to expand, Hillary Clinton is looking to create more trade opportunities, and Donald Trump is proposing to halt them. Both candidates’ plans for fiscal international spending have benefits and drawbacks, but regardless, the U.S. must continue to cooperate with other major powers to create a global economy that works for everyone.
The best way to achieve this is to negotiate trade deals that support free trade and global production and consumption. This is why global conferences like the Group of Twenty (G20) Summit, held this September in Hangzhou, China, are so important to the U.S.’s fiscal international relations.
The G20 Summit is the forum in which leaders from nineteen major countries and the European Union (E.U.) meet annually to discuss international economic cooperation and broker trade deals. It was first held in 2008 so that the leaders of the world could formulate a response to the economic crisis. Since then, its primary goal has been to improve the future of the global economy.
The U.S. has often negotiated international trade deals, most recently the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), signed in February by twelve Pacific Rim nations. The TPP is a multinational trade deal that would allow for international trade cooperation, but it has caused backlash from many prominent politicians, including Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. According to Senator Sanders, the TPP “is a nightmare for American workers.” Clinton has said it is “not good enough,” while Trump goes so far as to call it “the rape of America.”
So what do they all hate about it? Sanders summarizes many Americans’ disapproval of the partnership, stating that it “undercuts worker rights, outsources jobs, and dismantles labor, environmental, health, food safety and financial laws.”
In this election, Trump wishes to restrict free trade in order to retain jobs in the United States. But while imposing tariffs and restricting free trade may seem appealing to unemployed Americans, free trade is necessary for the global economy to continue functioning as it has since the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade was signed in 1947.
The TPP is the most recent example of a free trade deal that strengthens the American economy, placing a greater value on intellectual property trading and liberalizing trade in services and agriculture, sectors in which the US is strong compared to the other eleven Pacific Rim nations. Trade deals like the TPP help the United States economy considerably, and Americans must take this into account when voting for their next President.
An isolationist nation cannot succeed on its own in today’s world. Military dominance alone cannot determine America’s success, and barriers to restrict free trade will do nothing but harm America’s economy. Free trade allows for American workers to specialize in goods and services that they produce more efficiently than the rest of the world in exchange for goods and services that other countries can produce at a lower cost and higher quality.
America’s economy has relied on free trade for a long time, and deals such as the TPP and NAFTA benefit everyone involved, including America’s economy. Regardless of who is elected President in November, it is essential for the United States to continue collaborating with other world powers to broker trade deals and improve the global economy.