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Record Number of Americans Endorse Benefits of Trade

RESEARCH Public Opinion Survey by Dina Smeltz and Craig Kafura
A woman rides her motorcycle past containers at the Port of Shanghai.

American views of President Trump’s performance on trade are divided along party lines, but a large majority say that trade is good for the US economy, consumers, and job creation.

Key Findings 

The highest percentages ever registered in this survey (since 2004) say that trade is good for the US economy (82%), good for consumers like you (85%), and good for creating jobs in the United States (67%). 

Support for NAFTA is also at its highest level yet (63%), and a majority (61%) supports US participation in the revised Pacific trade agreement, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. 

Democrats express the most favorable views of these two trade agreements, while majorities of Independents now also support them. While Republicans as a group tend to oppose them, a majority of non-Trump Republicans support them, demonstrating splits within the party faithful. 

Only four in ten Americans say that reducing the US trade deficit should be a very important goal for US foreign policy, though it is a higher priority for Republicans. 

Seven in ten are concerned about a possible trade war with China; just over half are concerned about a trade war with Mexico. In both cases, trade wars are a greater concern for Democrats.  

About the Authors
Senior Fellow, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy
Headshot for Dina Smeltz
Dina Smeltz, a polling expert, has more than 25 years of experience designing and fielding international social and political surveys. Prior to joining the Council to lead its annual survey of American attitudes on US foreign policy, she served in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the US State Department's Office of Research from 1992 to 2008.
Headshot for Dina Smeltz
Assistant Director, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy
Craig Kafura is the assistant director for public opinion and foreign policy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, a Security Fellow with the Truman National Security Project, and a Pacific Forum Young Leader. At the Council, he coordinates work on public opinion and foreign policy and is a regular contributor to the public opinion and foreign policy blog Running Numbers.