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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 24th June 2016 > ARE FREE TRADE DEALS BAD FOR AMERICA?

ARE FREE TRADE DEALS BAD FOR AMERICA?

Trump and Clinton agree on one thing: The latest big trade deal with Asia stinks. But that doesn’t mean they’re right

THE VIDEO WENT viral almost instantly, and for good reason. A corporate executive—Chris Nelson, president of Carrier, a subsidiary of United Technologies that makes air conditioners—stands in front of a large group of workers at the company’s plant in Indianapolis in February. He tells them the factory is closing and moving to Monterrey, Mexico. There are shouts of anger and obscenities. Fourteen-hundred people who had well-paid full-time jobs are learning that it’s all over. At one point, with a straight face, Nelson says, “I want to be clear: This is strictly a business decision”—as if it could have been anything else.

It went viral because it encapsulated the fracturing of the free trade consensus in the United States, the mounting backlash against economic globalization and the political heat that trade deals, past and present, have drawn during this year’s presidential campaign. On the night of the last primaries, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump repeated his standard riff about the evils of bad trade deals, vowing that “the American worker will have his or her job protected from foreign competition.” And while Hillary Clinton has been less strident about trade than her Democratic rival, Bernie Sanders, who during the campaign repeatedly linked the decline in manufacturing employment in the U.S. to “failed trade policies,” the former secretary of state now says she opposes the Obama administration’s Trans-Pacific Partnership—a pending free trade deal with 11 Asian nations negotiated while she was head of the State Department.

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