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NAFTA and the Slide in Popularity of Free Trade - 10/18/19

There was a time when the notion of free trade was reasonably popular in America.  The North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA passed during the mid-1990s. 

Among other things, the pact opened America up to greater competition with Mexico, but its passage came at a time when investment was pouring into the emerging Internet economy, helping America create millions of jobs and perhaps limiting any resentment toward NAFTA. 

In two thousand and one, China entered the World Trade Organization, which represented a far greater shock to the U.S. economy.  But immediately afterwards, a real estate and construction boom ensued, leading to falling unemployment and feeling of greater prosperity among homeowners. 

But those booms are over.  In recent years, income growth has been soft for many Americans and trade has emerged as a scapegoat.  Americans are hardly alone in terms of their skepticism regarding the benefits of free trade.  As reported by the New York Times, a twenty fourteen Pew Research Center survey of people in forty-four nations found that only forty five percent of respondents believe that trade raises wages.  

Anirban Basu, Chariman Chief Executive Officer of Sage Policy Group (SPG), is one of the Mid-Atlantic region's leading economic consultants. Prior to founding SPG he was Chairman and CEO of Optimal Solutions Group, a company he co-founded and which continues to operate. Anirban has also served as Director of Applied Economics and Senior Economist for RESI, where he used his extensive knowledge of the Mid-Atlantic region to support numerous clients in their strategic decision-making processes. Clients have included the Maryland Department of Transportation, St. Paul Companies, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Players Committee and the Martin O'Malley mayoral campaign.