International Trade Myths
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International trade has many economic benefits. Free trade allows consumers to buy more, better-quality products at significantly lower costs. With free trade we get economic growth, enhanced efficiency, and increased innovation. These are some of the realities that come with international free trade. What we need to be warry of are the myths that are often associated with international trade.
First, more exports do not necessarily mean more wealth. It is actually the total level of trade that reflects economic wealth. This means total imports and total exports. More exports increase wealth only because they allow us to buy more imports and give non-Americans greater incentives to invest into the economy. If we only export and restrict imports it leaves our economy worse off.
Secondly, many think that free trade means domestic jobs go overseas. False. What really happens depends on the industry. For example, with free trade jobs in highly inefficient industries might be reduced. On the flip side, it frees up resources to create jobs in highly efficient industries, boosting overall wages and improving living standards. Protectionism might “save” some jobs but that comes with a cost. The cost of opportunities and input costs will swell for industries downstream.
Lastly, this sounds counterintuitive but trade deficits are good for us. This is because a trade deficit is usually a signal that global investors are confident in our economic future. Our trade deficit might be larger than it would otherwise be if a trading partner chooses to keep the price of its currency artificially low, but this practice harms the trading partner, not us.
While international trade can have some downsides, overall, there are so many benefits and we have to weed out the misconceptions that are often discussed with this topic. Bust these myths and know the benefits of international trade!