US Falling Behind on Trade, While Japan and EU Thrive

Kelly Cousoulis / Tori Whiting /

European Union and Japanese leaders recently met in Brussels to further negotiations for a free trade agreement. As the EU and Japan work together to boost their economic, political, and security ties, sentiments in the United States seem to be turning away from free trade in favor of protectionism.

President Donald Trump has fueled anti-trade sentiment in the U.S. by promoting policies like “Buy American, Hire American.” The United States role in forcing G20 financial ministers to drop their pledge to protect global free trade further amplifies the administration’s protectionist attitude.

The World Trade Organization stated in a recent press release that global trade growth is slowing dramatically, a serious concern. Global trade has grown at the slowest pace since the 2008 financial crisis. The World Trade Organization reported that last year’s trade growth rate slowed to only 1.7 percent, and will likely worsen if the U.S. implements a protectionist agenda.

Despite these trends, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made it his mission to take a firm stance against the rise of protectionism. The Japanese trade agreement with the EU is likely to shed more light on the benefits of free trade while sending a direct message to Trump that the world is moving ahead.

The United States will continue to fall behind unless Trump embraces the values and benefits of free trade. It is important for the United States to continue to advance America’s freedom to trade.

The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom has shown that countries with higher trade freedom scores have higher per capita incomes, lower poverty rates, and a cleaner environment.