Support for foreign trade remains strong

Feb. 22, 2014 at 10:16 AM
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PRINCETON, N.J., Feb. 22 (UPI) -- U.S. trade with foreign countries remains widely supported by adults, a poll conducted in early February found.

A Feb. 6-9 survey of 1,023 adults found that 54 percent indicated support for foreign trade, while 38 percent indicated it was potentially harmful to the economy, Gallup said Saturday.

The survey's results were close to last year's figures, but this year's poll was conducted on the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement that was signed into law by former President George H.W. Bush in 1994 and ratified during former President Bill Clinton's tenure in the While House.

Clinton's intervention helped protect U.S. jobs, which helped NAFTA gain support from Democrats, Gallup said. Prior to that, NAFTA support was split with strong Republican backing and opposition from Democrats.

But support for foreign trade has more recently mirrored confidence in the U.S. economy.

In a 2008 survey, the Gallup Economic Confidence Index stood at minus 32. In the same year, 52 percent or respondents to a survey indicated they saw foreign trade as a threat, while 41 percent indicated it was "an opportunity," Gallup said.

At that time, the United States was running an annual trade deficit of $816 billion.

The confidence index this year came to minus 14, the highest is has been since the recession and the trade deficit for 2013 came to $688 billion.

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