Discussion 1: “Free Trade and Protectionism”

Discussion 1 Prompt:
The video Global Exchange: Free Trade and Protectionism suggests there are some other reasons that individuals might oppose free trade and/or globalization beyond economic ones: do these help us understand opposition?

Read over the following peer discussions (Nicholas B. and Habib F.) and write a concise response of one paragraph per peer discussion based on using the cited materials:

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Readings
•Oatley, Chapters 1-3
•Blinder, A. (2019). Links to an external site.”The Free-Trade Paradox: The Bad Politics of a Good Idea.”Links to an external site. Foreign Affairs, 98(1), 119-128.
Videos
•Global Exchange: Free Trade and Protectionism (32:38)

While you don’t need to formally cite the material, you should include support by referencing the author/website/video.

Keep in mind that your discussion should be grammatically correct, free of spelling mistakes, polite and professional.

Peer Discussion – Nicholas B.
While I am skeptical of the sustainability of protectionism, two points in its defense stood out to me in the documentary Global Exchange: Free Trade and Protectionism: job security and political optics. The film made note of opposition to free trade on the part of unions, who organize and fight for the security of low-skilled labor. Low-skilled workers feel that free trade exports their jobs overseas where cheaper labor is available. This reminded me of individuals such as autoworkers in the United States, particularly in the Detroit area, who have long been vocal about the diminishing security of their employment. One can understand opposition to policy that threatens the ability to provide for a family or even one’s self. While younger workers in these sectors may have the time and ability to adapt and overcome the loss of their job, someone a bit older may struggle to find future employment when their job is lost to overseas competitors. This perspective directly contributes to opposition of free trade by some politicians.
Representatives of communities negatively impacted by free trade are likely to be critics of the policy as well, even if they agree with its long-term benefits. For instance, someone representing a community comprised of autoworkers would be hard-pressed to find political support if they openly support moving automotive production overseas. While the overall benefit to do so may benefit the nation, it does not benefit that particular demographic. Those community members likely would not vote for an individual advocating policy that threatens their jobs. Therefore, the representative in question has a strong incentive to oppose free trade. The political optics of doing so are more likely to garner votes, and subsequently provide job security for the representative.

Peer Discussion – Habib F.
It definitely does. Free trade will open up the door for contrabands and dangerous goods therefore with a potential of ruining a country’s identity and culture. With borders between countries practically non-existent, drugs have more freedom to enter the market and exposing the population to a new and harmful good. This lost in cultural identity can also be tied with the idea that most country with unlimited labor resources do not have proper labor law and therefore do not treat their workers fairly. There has been plenty of lawsuit brought against couple of countries in Asia, particularly China, due to the treatment to its labor force. The US and UN are constantly battling to eliminate child and forced labor.
Free trade also has a potential of harming the environment. When developing country rely on export to boost their economy, they tend to pollute the environment with their resources. For instance, China is a big importer of goods. When the COVID pandemic hit back in March, we saw a difference in the air quality and clear sky due to the shutdown of most of its factories. As human, we tend to focus more on improving our income, that we tend to overlook the effect it has on the environment.

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