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Economists generally believe free trade between the U.S. and other nations benefits the U.S. economy and consumers. Though some jobs are sacrificed, tariff-free imports mean prices are significantly lower for a vast range of consumer products.
The U.S. has signed trade deals involving 20 countries. The most important is the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, which removed trade barriers between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Renegotiating or tearing up existing trade deals would reverse the benefits for consumers, says Stuart Anderson, executive director of the National Foundation for American Policy, a research organization in Arlington, Virginia.
“A small percentage of people in the protected industries might end up being personally somewhat better off, but it would come at the expensive of everyone else who would pay higher prices for different goods and services,” Anderson says.
Without trade deals, the challenge for consumers would be how to cope financially with those higher prices, which could hit big-ticket items like cars, newly built houses and appliances as well as everyday purchases like groceries, housewares, clothing and toys.
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