Trade Myth 1:
The U.S. has opened itself up to trade from other countries more than any other advanced economy. This is hurting the middle class and factory workers. (Politicians such as Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump frequently make this claim.)
International trade in goods is less important to the United States than any other advanced economy. In 2014, merchandise trade amounted to a little more than 23% of GDP. This compares to 45% for China, 175% for Belgium and 263% for Singapore. Moreover, the middle class and factory workers are helped, not hurt, by international trade. Consumers frequently pay less for imported goods and can choose from a much greater variety of products. Workers in internationally competitive industries, such as aircraft manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and information technologies, benefit from increased sales to consumers in foreign markets. Workers in “rust belt” industries using old technologies (basic steel products, textiles and garments) are losing their jobs mainly because of automation and other new technologies, not trade.