Effects of Trade Protection Policies: Employment Context

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This essay will examine the effects of trade protection policies on jobs. This is a difficult topic because there are many competing opinions; more particularly, these opinions are driven by a mixture of both political and economic considerations. To be sure, any policy affecting jobs is highly political in the United States…

Introduction


As an initial matter, it is important to define what is meant by trade protection policies. In general, trade protection policies are barriers to free trade. These types of policies may take the form of quotas, tariffs, or more sophisticated trade policies and laws. They are often enacted to protect specific industries from increasing imports and international competition. In the American context, from an historical point of view, the most protected industry has been the steel industry. Other industries which have lobbied for and received some benefits from trade protection policies are industries involved in textiles and automobiles. President Bush, a frequent proponent of free trade, was recently criticized for bowing to political interests and signing trade protection legislation in order to protect votes. More specifically, "Bush moved last year to protect steel manufacturers with large operations in political battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and West Virginia by imposing three-year, 30 percent tariffs on foreign imported steel to protect an industry that employs more than 125,000 workers nationwide" (Powell, 2003: np). In short, the political influences are extraordinarily strong in the trade protection debate.
The question presented, however, is not wheth ...
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