Trump, Clinton target trade deals at a time when globalization is stalling

From The Washington Post:

The steady march of globalization that powered the world economy for the past 30 years is stalling out at a time when leading political figures in the United States and elsewhere have become increasingly hostile to international trade.

The World Trade Organization said Tuesday that growth in global trade would fall to 1.7 percent this year, the slowest pace since the 2008 financial crisis and part of a vicious cycle that has dragged down broader economic growth. Formerly highflying countries such as China and Brazil are spending less on manufacturing equipment and railroads, while stalwarts such as Europe and ­Japan are fighting the perilous phenomenon of falling prices known as deflation — leaving nations with little appetite for trading with one another.

Economists say the slowdown in trade could carry significant risks for workers in the United States. Although advocates of trade barriers say they could protect more American jobs from going overseas, most economists say tariffs would raise costs for American manufacturers and consumers, imperiling an already fragile economy. Meanwhile, cutting off emerging markets could threaten the livelihoods of workers around the world. Globalization was instrumental in reducing the number of people who live in extreme poverty by half over roughly the past two decades, according to the World Bank.

The WTO report comes on the heels of the first presidential debate, in which Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton showed unusual agreement in sharply criticizing past trade deals and questioning the benefits of approving a new agreement with 11 countries along the Pacific Rim. Instead, Clinton called for “smart, fair trade deals.” Trump, who has made opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership a centerpiece of his campaign, threatened to raise tariffs and pull out of existing agreements.

But the wave of globalization that sparked political outrage is actually already waning. The WTO slashed its estimate for …

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