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A lot of the world helps globalization in concept, however many query it in apply


A lot of the world helps globalization in concept, however many query it in apply


People around the world have two opinions about globalization: in principle, most believe that it is good for their country; in practice, many – especially in advanced economies – are not so sure whether it is good for them personally. This skepticism, especially among Americans, Japanese and some Europeans, poses serious domestic political challenges to the transatlantic and transpacific trade deals currently being negotiated, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center conducted in 44 countries this spring.

The good news for advocates of globalization is that the overwhelming majority (median 81%) of people in a variety of developed, emerging and developing countries say that international trade and global business relationships are good for their country. People also generally express the opinion (median 74%) that it is beneficial for their economy if foreign companies build new factories in their country. 48,643 participants took part in the survey from March 17 to June 5, 2014.

The bad news for the same apostles of globalization is that a significant proportion of the people in many countries have reservations about the effects of deeper international economic integration. Just over half (54%) believe that trade creates jobs. Only a majority (45%) believe that it will raise wages. And barely a quarter (26%) agree that trade drives prices down, contrary to one of the main arguments economists use to explain why nations should act.

The ugly political consequence of this sentiment is that trade and investment skepticism is particularly strong in France, Italy, Japan and the United States. Each of these nations is involved in the negotiations on important regional trade agreements: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the case of the US and Japan, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the nations of the European Union and the US. The governments involved, including the Obama administration and most of the business community in Europe, Japan, the US and other countries involved in the talks, say the deals will boost growth and jobs while benefiting consumers.

However, when we ask about specific implications related to international trade, the American public is particularly skeptical. For example, barely 17% of Americans believe trade leads to higher wages, only 20% believe it will create new jobs, and only 28% say foreign companies that buy American companies are good for the country. This underlying distrust could hamper governments’ efforts to further deepen and expand global markets.

Bruce Stokes is a former director of global economic attitudes at the Pew Research Center.


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