During the 2016 election cycle in the United States, Americans have been expressing concern over international trade. Candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have discussed trade matters such as the Trans Pacific Partnership and the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mr Trump fanning flames on China’s alleged currency manipulation and immigration of workers from Mexico. He has less than artfully but effectively tapped into the fears of average Americans on the issue.
The problem is that the fears of average Americans are unfounded because the average American, in my opinion, has no dog in this hunt.
Unless the average American is pitching her own individual ability to produce and sell goods and services cross border on a regular basis; to sell and promote their own individual professional brand across borders, then they have no skin in the global trade game. Individual wage earners may express resentment, anger, and fear over a former employer deciding to move its capital and other resources to Mexico to take advantage of human capital and other capital in that nation-state, but that is a firm’s decision as to what to do with its resources.
When individuals gripe about trade, they indicate tome that they are unwilling or unable to take their knowledge, skills, and abilities across border to follow new opportunities. As individuals Americans, unlike their European cousins living in the European Union, are simply not capable selling their value across border.
Americans never properly prepared themselves for international trade because they were under the mistaken notion that the world of international commerce begins and ends with them. Citizens and policy makers apparently forgot to consider that the ability of human capital to move itself freely and willingly across borders is just as important as a firm’s ability to move itself across border. Policy makers never drove home the importance of individual Americans preparing themselves for global trade by ramping up their educations, getting a passport, and learning a new language. For this reason it is hard for me to shed a tear for someone aggrieved by the impact of global trade.