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USA: Trade and Globalization Opinion
USA: Trade and Globalization Opinion
Date distributed (ymd): 991206
Document reposted by APIC
Issue Areas: +economy/development+ +US policy focus+
This posting contains two separate documents from November
1999 related to U.S. trade with Africa and U.S. public opinion
on globalization. The first is a press release from the U.S.
International Trade Commission announcing the Fifth Report on
U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade (the full report is available,
in PDF format only,
report shows declines from 1997 to 1998 both in total two-way
trade and in U.S. investment going to Africa, but an increase
in U.S. exports to African countries.
The second document, from the Program on International Policy
Attitudes, consists of brief excerpts from a report on U.S.
Public Attitudes on Globalization. The report shows that the
U.S. public is broadly supportive of trade expansion, but only
if there is protection for other values such as jobs, the
environment and the interests of developing countries.
U.S. International Trade Commission
November 17, 1999; News Release 99-159
ITC RELEASES FIFTH REPORT ON U.S.-SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA TRADE
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) today released
U.S.-Africa Trade Flows and Effects of the Uruguay Round Trade
Agreements and U.S. Trade and Development Policy, the fifth
and final report in a series intended to assist the President
in developing a comprehensive trade and development policy for
the countries of Africa.
The ITC, an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding federal
agency, conducted the investigation for the United States
Trade Representative (USTR) under the Africa Policy Section of
the Statement of Administrative Action that Congress approved
with the Uruguay Round Agreements Act.
As requested by USTR, the ITC's study is limited to the 48
countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. The current report provides
an update for 1998 on U.S.-Africa trade and investment flows
in major sectors; an identification of major developments in
the World Trade Organization (WTO) and in U.S. trade and
economic policy and commercial activities that significantly
affect bilateral trade and investment with the region;
information on changing trade and economic activities within
individual countries; and an update on progress in regional
integration in Africa. Following are some highlights of the
- For the first time in four years, total two-way trade
between the United States and the region declined. It dropped
from $22 billion in 1997 to $19.9 billion in 1998, a drop of
almost 10 percent. The main reason for this decrease was a 28
percent drop in the value U.S. imports of Sub-Saharan
energy-related products (principally crude petroleum), by far
the greatest contributor to total U.S. imports from the
- The sharp decline in the value of U.S. oil imports from the
region translated into a major improvement in the longstanding
trade deficit with Sub-Saharan Africa. The deficit totaled
$6.8 billion in 1998, down from almost $10 billion the
- Total U.S. merchandise exports to the region in 1998 rose by
7.4 percent to $6.5 billion, up from $6.1 billion in 1997.
Total U.S. imports from the region fell 16.5 percent in 1998,
from about $16 billion in 1997 to $13.4 billion in 1998.
- The largest share of U.S. exports to the region is in the
transportation equipment sector, accounting for 34.2 percent
of the total in 1998 and 28 percent in 1997.
- Nigeria is the largest supplier of U.S. imports from the
region, with almost $5 billion in sales (predominantly
energy-related products) to the United States representing 36
percent of the region's total merchandise exports to the
United States in 1998.
- Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) imports from
Sub-Saharan Africa increased dramatically in 1998, up 73
percent from $1.4 billion in 1997 to $2.4 billion. Angola has
surpassed South Africa as the largest Sub-Saharan African GSP
import supplier to the United States. Duty-free GSP imports
from Angola grew by 135 percent in 1998.
- U.S. service exports to Africa increased by 12.2 percent in
1997. Tourism was the leading U.S. service export to Africa in
1997, accounting for 29 percent of the total; this was
followed by professional services with 24 percent, freight
transportation with 10.9 percent, and education with 10.6
percent. The largest U.S. trading partner for services is
- Sub-Saharan Africa received about $4.8 billion in foreign
direct investment (FDI) flows in 1998, a decline of about 8.3
percent from the previous year. This decline was due, in part,
to the fact that South Africa's strong performance in
privatization in 1997 was not sustained.
- Global FDI to developing countries declined by 5 percent to
$154.9 billion in 1998; Sub-Saharan Africa's share of that
amount also dropped slightly to 3.1 percent in 1998, down from
3.2 percent of total investment to developing countries in
- U.S. gross direct investment to the region declined by 43
percent, from $3.8 billion in 1997 to $2.2 billion in 1998.
- Some U.S. government programs directed toward Sub-Saharan
Africa increased in 1998, compared to the previous year. Total
U.S. bilateral economic assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa
increased from $998 million in fiscal year 1997 to $1.1
billion in fiscal year 1998.
- In 1998, several Sub-Saharan African countries continued to
increase their efforts to avail themselves of WTO benefits and
other programs aimed at improving their trade performance. A
number of countries received multilateral assistance through
the WTO Trust Fund for Technical Cooperation -- where 1998-99
contributions worth $4.5 million are used to fund instruction
for officials of less developed countries.
U.S.-Africa Trade Flows and Effects of the Uruguay Round Trade
Agreements and U.S. Trade and Development Policy
(Investigation No. 332-362, USITC Publication 3250, October
1999) will be available on the ITC's Internet server at
www.usitc.gov. A printed copy may be requested by calling
202-205-1809 or by writing the Office of the Secretary, U.S.
International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington,
DC 20436. Requests may also be faxed to 202-205-2104.
Americans on Globalization: A Study of US Public Attitudes
from the Program on International Policy Attitudes, A joint
program of the Center for the Study of Policy Attitudes and
the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland,
School of Public Affairs, University of Maryland
Summary of Findings
(excerpts only: for full text see
November 16, 1999
Principal Investigator: Steven Kull
... To explore in depth the American public's attitudes toward
these questions, the Program on International Policy Attitudes
(PIPA) conducted three focus groups and a nationwide poll. The
focus groups were held in Dallas, Texas; Battle Creek,
Michigan; and Baltimore, Maryland. The poll was conducted
October 21-29, 1999, with 1,826 randomly selected adults
(weighted to be demographically representative). The margin of
error ranged from +/- 2 to 4%, depending on the portion of the
sample that heard the question, with most questions at the 4%
level. An extensive report on this study, including a
comprehensive review of all existing poll data on this
subject, will be forthcoming. ...
Globalization in General
1 Overall, globalization is seen as somewhat more positive
than negative. A large majority favors moving with the process
of globalization and only a small minority favors resisting
it. Americans view globalization as a process of the world
becoming increasingly interconnected. It is seen not only as
an economic process, but also as one in which values are
becoming more oriented to a global context and international
institutions are playing a more central role.
Overall, it appears Americans view globalization as having a
mixture of positive and negative elements, with the positive
elements just moderately outweighing the negative ones. ...
2 In principle, a majority of Americans supports the growth of
international trade. However, the benefits of trade to date
are seen as barely outweighing the costs for most sectors of
society, except for the business community. A strong majority
feels trade has not grown in a way that adequately
incorporates concerns for American workers, international
labor standards and the environment. ...
Trade Seen as Producing Little Net Gain
Despite fairly strong support for trade in principle, a
majority felt that to date the benefits of trade have barely
outweighed the costs for most sectors of society, except for
the business community.
The effect of international trade on jobs also was seen as
fairly neutral. Asked how many jobs international trade
generates and how many it costs, respondents were almost
exactly divided, with 46% saying more were gained and 45%
saying more were lost. ...
Overall, Americans seem to feel that US trade policymakers
adequately consider commercial interests, but an overwhelming
majority feel that other sectors of American society get short
shrift. Asked about "US government officials who are making
decisions about US international trade policy," 54% said they
consider the concerns of multinational corporations "too
much," while for "American business" responses were evenly
distributed among too much, too little and about right.
However, overwhelming majorities said US trade policymakers
were giving "too little" consideration to "working Americans"
(72%), the general public (68%) or "people like you" (73%).
The World Trade Organization (WTO) did not fare much better
than the US government. Sixty-five percent agreed that, "When
the World Trade Organization makes decisions, it tends to
think about what's best for business, but not about what's
best for the world as a whole."
Consistent with this view, a majority of 56% said they thought
"The growth of international trade has increased the gap
between rich and poor in this country." Only 10% said trade
has decreased the gap, while 27% said it has had no effect.
Want Other Concerns to Be Incorporated
Given these perspectives, it is not surprising that Americans
want the process of trade liberalization to incorporate other
concerns, such as the needs of American workers, international
labor standards and the environment. ... An overwhelming
88% agreed with the following statement:
Increasing international trade is an important goal for the
United States, but it should be balanced with other goals,
such as protecting workers, the environment, and human rights
- even if this may mean slowing the growth of trade and the
Readiness to Limit Trade for Other Values
Americans also show a substantial readiness to limit trade in
support of other values. Respondents were introduced to the
issue of trade sanctions with a statement that underscored the
arguments against limiting trade with countries that do not
live up to certain international standards, saying "Some
people say...it is not the US's right to make these judgments,
that limiting trade interferes with the general process of
opening up trade, that such limits are rarely effective, and
that they cost the US business and thus jobs."
Nonetheless, in every case a strong majority favored limiting
trade as a means of pressuring countries to change their
Americans even show a remarkable receptivity to the idea that
barriers could be applied to US products in the name of
various concerns. Although the American position was clearly
articulated in each question, a majority said they regarded it
as legitimate to put up barriers to genetically modified foods
(81%) and beef grown with hormones (58%), based on health
concerns. A plurality (50%) saw it as legitimate for Europeans
to favor bananas from their former colonies over US companies,
based on historical obligations. ...
Concerns for American Workers
2A Most Americans feel that American workers are not
benefiting from the increase in international trade and that
their needs are not being properly addressed by US
policymakers. Most Americans put a higher priority on
preserving the jobs of workers than on lowering consumer
prices through trade. Even the higher-wage jobs that trade may
bring are not clearly seen as offsetting the disruptive
effects of losing jobs. A strong majority felt the US
government has a responsibility to aid workers who lose jobs
because of trade and that the government should do more to
retrain and educate workers. If the government were to
undertake such efforts, an overwhelming majority said it would
then support increased trade. ...
Even when it was emphasized that trade may generate new jobs
with higher wages, a majority did not feel this offsets the
disruption for the workers who lose their jobs. Asked to
choose between two statements, 56% chose the one, "Even if the
new jobs that come from freer trade pay higher wages, overall
it is not worth all the disruption of people losing their
jobs." Forty percent chose, "It is better to have the higher
paying jobs, and the people who lost their jobs can eventually
find new ones."
Concerns for jobs makes Americans relatively wary of entering
into trade agreements with low-wage countries. As mentioned,
64% said that if another country is willing to lower its trade
barriers to US products, the US should be willing to lower its
trade barriers; but only 50% said they would be willing to
enter into such an agreement with low-wage countries. ...
Mitigating the Effects of Trade on Workers
A strong majority felt that the US government has the
responsibility to help workers adjust to the changes that come
with international trade and the government should be doing
more ... When the possibility of helping workers adapt to
changes associated with increased trade is considered, support
for free trade becomes overwhelming.
Similarly, an overwhelming 87% agreed (56% strongly) with the
statement, "I would favor more free trade, if I was confident
that we were making major efforts to educate and retrain
Americans to be competitive in the global economy." Only 11%
Concerns for Labor Standards
... Americans overwhelmingly support the view that
international labor standards should be incorporated into
trade negotiations. Respondents were offered two arguments
for, and two against, the idea that "countries who are part of
this [trade] agreement should be required to maintain certain
standards for working conditions, such as minimum health and
safety standards and the right to organize into unions."
Concerns for the Environment
2C Americans overwhelmingly support the view that there should
be more international agreements on environmental standards.
A very strong majority rejects the WTO's current position that
countries should not be able to restrict imports based on the
environmental effects of their production. ...
77% (48% strongly) felt there should be more international
agreements on environmental standards.
In a series of questions, an overwhelming majority showed very
strong support for having more international agreements on
Globalization of Values
Respondents showed very strong support for the idea that
increasing economic involvement with other parts of the world
increases Americans' responsibility to address moral issues in
those countries. Seventy-three percent agreed: "As we become
more involved economically with another country... we should
be more concerned about the human rights in that country." An
overwhelming majority also felt this principle applies to
working conditions. ...
Helping Poor Countries
3B Most Americans perceive poor countries as not benefiting
from the increase of international trade and support giving
poor countries preferential trade treatment. Very strong
majorities believed that the US has a moral obligation to
promote development in poor countries and that doing so
ultimately would serve US economic interests.
Americans are highly supportive of various ideas for extending
the benefits of globalization to poor countries. An idea
currently under discussion at the WTO for giving the poorest
countries preferential trade treatment received strong
support, even when it was suggested that it might threaten
some American jobs. ...
Support for helping poor countries is prompted by moral and
self-interest motives. A strong 68% agreed (31% strongly)
that, "the United States has a moral responsibility toward
poor nations to help them develop economically." At the same
time, strong majorities thought that "in the long run, if
developing countries do become stronger economically," this
would have a positive impact on "US business opportunities in
developing countries" (74%), "the US economy" (70%), and even
"jobs in the United States" (63%).
[The question asked was:]
Giving the Poorest Countries Preferential Trade Treatment
"Currently, there are no efforts to find ways to help the very
poorest countries... One idea being discusssed is for the
wealthier countries to allow in more of the products from
these very poor countries. Some say that this would be a good
idea because it would help these poor countries get on their
feet, and, because their imports would still be no more than
one percent of all imports, it would cost the wealthy
countries very little. Others say that allowing in more goods
from these very poor countries is a bad idea because it might
threaten jobs of American workers producing the same kinds of
products. Do you think [this] is a good or bad idea?"
This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the
Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's primary
objective is to widen international policy debates around
African issues, by concentrating on providing accessible
policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a wide
range of groups and individuals.