Why People Think Differently about International Trade?

This week we looked at a critical activity closely associated with the textile and apparel industry in the 21st century: International Trade.  Among the fundamental questions we examined, whether trade is beneficial or not is a one that all of us care much about but also has raised many debates. 

Just this week, the Pew Research Center released its latest survey findings about the public opinion on growing trade and business ties between countries and views about the impact of trade on jobs, wages and prices. The results show that not only Americans, but also people in other countries, including those developing ones, are divided about international trade. Anyhow, the highest level of public skepticism about trade and foreign investment is found in the United States.  



Job and wage are among the top concerns about trade among the general public. In Italy, nearly 59 percent survey respondents believed that trade destroy jobs and 52 percent believed trade lower wages. These two figures are 50 and 45 among US respondents.



After our discussion on various trade theories, which school of thought do you agree more: mercantilism or comparative advantage theory? Are these theories proposed hundreds years ago still working today? Do you think deepened globalization will reduce the gap or even widen the gap of people’s divided view on international trade? How do you think international trade affects your daily life and your future career opportunities? Last but not least, is trade beneficial for the US textile and apparel industry in the 21st century? Please feel free to share your views!

Author: Sheng Lu

Professor @ University of Delaware

6 thoughts on “Why People Think Differently about International Trade?”

  1. I agree more with comparative advantage because it means the U.S. manufactures products that give us a bigger advantage such as machinery and the U.S. has foreign countries manufacture products that are a smaller disadvantage for them such as apparel. Also, based on the data shown above, it seems that most people agree that globalization creates jobs instead of destroying jobs. Lastly, importing clothing helps the U.S save scarce resources. This is important because if we ran out of scarce resources, many companies would start to struggle, especially apparel companies. This is one reason trade is particularly beneficial for the US textile and apparel industry. By having trade agreements with China and other developing countries, many U.S. apparel and textile companies are thriving simply because cost of manufacturing is much less. The means more job options for me when I graduate. However, if the U.S. were to get rid of trade agreements and produce everything domestically which would be so much more expensive, those companies may not be as successful anymore and that would mean less job options for me.

  2. I agree with the comparative advantage theory, it is more of an up to date view of the world on trade and globalization for the 21st century. Mercantilism is no longer valid in today’s world. The comparative advantage theory allows the US to specialize in our strengths, which is no longer the manufacturing of apparel. In the majority of countries shown in the graph above proves that this is a good thing for the rest of the world. Yes a lot of manufacturing does still occur domestically, however the majority is transferred over seas to China and now emerging Vietnam. Since 2007 after the recession, the US opinion of trade benefit has been slowly increasing and is still on the rise. I also think people are not as educated on trade when they make the assumption that jobs are being shipped over seas. This is true but not in the sense of the context. These lower class jobs can be found with more efficient skills and techniques over seas which in the economy today, most companies are doing. Our abundant resources in the US are no longer in the manufacturing sector, we can thrive in many other areas being the nation who is leading in advanced technology; manufacturing is no longer our forte. other countries that are increasing with these lower class jobs over seas is what they thrive in, and like any other environment this is a natural cause to an effect. The countries that are consuming this sector are one’s who’s economies aren’t as strong as ours and by these countries consuming these jobs it allows strength and growth over seas, which in turn creates a better economy worldwide.
    From the previous post, I think a great comment was made in that by US importing clothing how it benefits other US companies not just apparel, in that our scare resources, if you drop, would effect our nations companies. The US can not rely on solely the US anymore, today’s world is a global one that should be embraced. The

  3. I definitely agree with Comparative Advantage Theory over Mercantilism. I think the beliefs about trade shown in the graphs above are misconceptions, particularly the ideas of those in more developed countries. If mercantilism was still around today the United States would have much fewer, and less advanced products. With comparative advantage theory, however that would not be the case. When comparative advantage theory is applied, resources throughout the world would be utilized to make products making them much more modern and suitable for today’s society than if each country made goods only for themselves. I think depend globalization will reduce the gap because the more people are directly involved with globalization the more their knowledge increases about it. International trade affects everyones lives. Without it our world would be less modern and the technology, tools, and other things we use every day to survive would be made with only the resources and the minds of those in the country they live in. Trade is not beneficial for the US but the rest of the world as well. Without it every country would be limited in their advancements of the modern world.

  4. I agree with the Comparative Advantage Theory as well. Although Mercantilism is “out of date” in todays society, Comparative Advantage Theory is a more modern view on globalization. In reference to the data above, it shows that more people thought that more jobs were created as an effect of globalization. referring to the charts again, it states that continuing business and trade ties with other nations is a good thing for the U.S. Trade is still beneficial in the 21st century, especially for those developing countries because it creates many new jobs as well as creating a global marketplace.

  5. I believe that global trade allows rich countries to use their resources more efficiently, whether it is labor, technology, or capital. Because countries have different assets and natural resources (land, labor, capital, and technology), some countries may be able to produce the same good more efficiently and therefore sell it at a lower cost than others. Thus, if a country cannot efficiently produce a good, it can obtain it by trading with another country that can produce it. Not only does international trade increase efficiency, but it also allows countries to participate in the global economy and encourages opportunities for foreign direct investment (FDI), i.e., the amount of money that individuals invest in foreign companies and assets. Theoretically, economies can thus grow more efficiently and become competitive economic players more easily.

  6. I personally believe in the Comparative Advantage Theory. While Mercantilism is considered to be an “out of date” theory in today’s society, the Comparative Advantage Theory is a more current approach to globalization nowadays. If Mercantilism was still around today and used more I think the US would not have as many advantages in globalization and trade as we do today. Since the US has money and we thrive off capital and not labor intensive work, with Mercantilism the US would not have as many advanced products. The US importing from other countries and having these trade agreements is beneficial and cheaper than domestically producing everything. Many U.S. garment and textile industries are thriving as a result of trade deals with China and other developing countries, simply because manufacturing costs are substantially lower which is a benefit for the US. Overall I think trade is a fairly good thing because without it the US would not be able to produce as much as cheaply and as fast as we do without other countries involved.

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