Together with finance and monetary relations, international trade is one of the key elements of 20th century economic
globalization. However, in recent years many countries have seen backlash against globalization, including growing
opposition to “free trade.” Examples of this backlash include Brexit and the US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific
Partnership. This backlash raises the possibility that free-trade policies are on the decline.
The Question: Is free trade ultimately beneficial for countries or harmful?
In writing your essay consider the following:
•According to trade theory (e.g., Heckscher-Ohlin, Stolper-Samuelson, Ricardo-Viner), which specific groups benefit
economically from free trade, and which groups are harmed? Do the benefits outweigh the harms?
•When might governments have an incentive to protect certain industries? Does protectionism mitigate the potential
negative effects of free trade, or is it generally more harmful than beneficial?
•Beyond economics, what other issue-areas might be affected by free trade (e.g., labor standards, the environment,
intellectual property, etc)? Are these effects positive or negative? Do these effects outweigh economic benefits?
•Thinking in terms of globalization overall (i.e., trade plus investment and monetary relations), is economic inter-
dependence between countries generally beneficial or harmful?