Support For Free Trade Strong But Eroding

Despite a pronounced protectionist sentiment in Congress and the Clinton Administration's decision not to pursue so-called fast-track trade-negotiating authority until after the November Congressional elections, most Americans still support free-trade agreements, indicates a poll just released by the Assn. of Women in International Trade, Washington. Only 16% want the U.S. to pull out of NAFTA, and 27% consider trade an election issue.

Such statistics would seem to be good news for corporate executives pushing for the further liberalization of world trade. But buried in the survey are data showing U.S. support for free-trade agreements substantially down from 1997. For example, 7% fewer union members and baby boomers now support free trade than a year ago. The erosion of support is most dramatic among non-college attendees in households with more than $45,000 annual income: off 24% from a year ago.

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