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  November 28th, 2017 | Written by

New Global Poll Shows Growing Consensus: Free Trade Benefits Local Economies

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  • 84 percent of people in 24 countries believe trade helps economies.
  • The biggest optimists in the world are in China, where 84 percent agree the world is getting better.
  • Views of the US’s influence in the world have declined over the last year.

This eighth wave of Ipsos’s annual Global Poll for the Halifax Security Forum shows a strong, consistent, and growing (up seven percent since 2016) consensus among global citizens that free trade benefits their local economy.

This includes citizens in all three countries involved in the NAFTA negotiations. Support for the local economic benefits of free trade in Mexico stands at 93 percent (up six percent), in Canada it’s at 89 percent (up nine percent), and the US it’s at 87 percent (up seven percent).

The country where citizens are the least likely to believe that free trade benefits their local economy is France (64 percent, up 16 percent). Also of note, even though the Brexit vote might suggest that citizens of Britain have turned sour on free trade, a strong majority (93 percent, up 3 percent) agree that free trade helps the British economy.

Given the domestic economic benefits of free trade, are the world’s governments doing enough to increase it? Three quarters (76 percent) believe that their local government is doing what they can to increase free trade. Eighty percent of Canadians think this, as do 76 percent of Americans, and 88 percent of Mexicans (the strongest agreement in the world).

When it comes to influence in world affairs, who do global citizens most want to see at the table? Again, this year, Canada (82 percent, unchanged) tops the list. Next are Germany (76 percent, -5 percent), France (75 percent, +4 percent), and the United Nations (72 percent, unchanged). Filling out the bottom of the list are Iran (31 percent, +5 percent), Israel (43 percent, +6 percent), and Russia (50 percent, +4 percent).

The biggest mover in terms of global influence over the last year has been the United States. While a majority (55 percent) of the world’s citizens say the United States has a positive influence on world affairs, this is down 9 percent from 2016. The US now trails China (58 percent, +3 percent) in terms of global perceptions of positive influence in world affairs.

While views of the US’s influence may have declined over the last year, what has remained stable is the world’s agreement (58 percent, -2 percent) that – “it is good for the world that the United States feels it has a special responsibility to assist countries or peoples when they are confronted by military aggressors.” Americans (75 percent, +5 percent) are more likely than average to think this, as are Canadians (65 percent, unchanged). Topping the list of countries that agree are India (83 percent, unchanged) and Poland (77 percent, +8 percent). At the bottom of the list are Russia (29 percent, +5 percent), Germany (40 percent, -7 percent), and China (48 percent, +3 percent).

What has also stayed stable (65 percent, +2 percent) is the belief among the world’s citizens that their country has enough common values with the US that they can cooperate on solving important international problems. Notably, there are increasing majorities on this in both Russia (74 percent, +12 percent) and China (62 percent, +9 percent). A stable majority of Canadians (81 percent, unchanged) also share this sentiment.

The US leads both China (57 percent, +7 percent) and Russia (54 percent, +7 percent) when it comes to the question of shared values, although the gap is closing. However, all three countries trail the European Union (72 percent, +4 percent) on this attribute.