Predicting the effects of international trade

Trade agreements have been a hot topic lately and when they come up in conversation, I hear a lot of good questions. What will increased trade do to jobs here and overseas? Will increasing imports fuel consumer culture? Will the increase in international transport harm the environment? The lack of certainty around these questions underlies a lot of the controversy around the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), President Obama’s landmark trade agreement.

To make sense of arguments, I decided to look at the issues side-by-side. While it’s impossible to predict the exact effects, we can get a directional idea of the potential outcomes:

As one might expect, international trade has both positive (green) and negative (red) potential effects.

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