The Global Trade Chart That Should Give Protectionists Pause

Populist voices on the left and right have found this much to agree on in this campaign season—they think freer trade has been a disaster for American workers and needs to be rolled back. The reality is more nuanced. The U.S. does run a trade deficit, but that doesn’t mean we’re “losing” to other countries. Global trade—both exports and imports—is deeply ingrained in the U.S. economy, accounting for 28% of GDP today, up from 9% in 1960.

Chart by Nicolas Rapp. Source: U.S. Department of Commerce.