Free trade is one of many issues receiving fresh attention in today's political climate. Questions of whether trade agreements are good or bad fly around like mosquitoes, waiting to bite when we least expect it. The itch to argue grows as charges of protectionism rise together with a perception that America is getting the short end of the stick in these agreements. The fact that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is still fresh in the minds of many doesn't help.
But what is free trade? How does it work? What concepts and metrics can we look at to determine whether an agreement benefits us? After the media storm surrounding the TPP, I spent of my life reading the entire agreement in order to understand its truth. The agreement was bad, but it wasn't bad when it came down to the free trade portions. Understanding why is what I seek explain.
Trade economics are complex- the kind of thing high level college courses and entire graduate programs are devoted towards. I will be the first to admit my lack of expertise. But like any issue facing the nation, education and learning can expand our field of awareness and, thus, understanding of the bigger picture. Having that foundation allows us to speak more holistically and objectively.
Thus I have amended my 2016 thesis on trade agreements to serve as an educational piece. There I cover concepts like comparative advantage, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, trade deficits, NAFTA, and more. These concepts are politically neutral, descriptive in nature, focusing on what each concept entails. From that point of understanding we can then consider the benefits and problems that trade agreements may have.
Like most of the policy discussions with my campaign and on this website, it's a bit of a long read. Such is required in order to truly get a bigger picture view of the issue at hand.
(Port of Baltimore Photo by Bob Nichols, USDA's flickr account - https://www.flickr.com/photos/usdagov/15274588099/)