Free trade has been the engine of economic growth for the United States for decades. Unfortunately, too few American women appreciate the benefits that they enjoy as a result of free trade.

  • Higher Quality, Lower Prices: Each day, Americans reap the benefits of free trade when they shop at local grocery stores that contain products from all over the world. Americans enjoy lower prices on everything from flowers to food as a result of the exchange of goods between nations.

  • Greater Job Opportunities: There are more good jobs in the United States as a result of global commerce. The economic growth fueled in part by trade liberalization helps create jobs in this country. The United States has 6.4 million insourced jobs. Moreover, jobs tied to exports pay 13-18 percent more than non-export related job.

  • A Safer, More Stable World: Trade makes the world a safer place. Countries with economies that are integrated by free trade have a common interest in preserving political harmony.

Leftist women’s groups like the National Organization for Women and the Feminist Majority have ignored these benefits and failed to call for trade liberalization. Women need to appreciate the positive impact the free exchange of goods has on their lives and encourage Congress and the administration to continue to reduce barriers to free trade through bilateral and regional free trade agreements.

Eliminating these barriers will give greater choice and more value to American families. As Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Finance Committee, has noted at a Senate hearing, “If we are going to sustain the prosperity this country has experienced for the past 50 years, we must remain steadfast in our support of open markets.”

Although she is often unaware of it, the average American woman is affected daily by free trade and the lack thereof. Trade affects what we eat, wear, drive, and how much we pay for these items. Agreements that facilitate trade between the United States and other countries have benefited consumers, workers, and average American families. As the U.S. Commerce Department notes, “The growth in trade over the past 50 years, fueled by falling trade barriers, has contributed directly to the most rapid sustained economic growth in U.S. history.”

Without exports, American producers would have fewer opportunities to sell their products since 96 percent of consumers live outside of the United States. Trade barriers have a huge impact on American workers. American farmers, for example, export one out of every three acres produced. According to former United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Zoellick, over the past decade, U.S. exports have supported an estimated 12 million jobs.

Yet, in spite of the manifold benefits of trade, there are still many unnecessary barriers that prevent the free flow of commerce between countries. These barriers come in many forms — from preferences provided to domestic producers to taxes imposed on those who seek to sell their products on U.S. territory. The stubbornness of trade barriers has many causes. A primary one is the failure to appreciate the benefits of trade that American citizens enjoy each day.

Unfortunately, most feminist groups, such as the National Organization for Women and the Feminist Majority, have failed to include trade liberalization as a part of their economic empowerment agenda.

This paper explains how trade improves the products and services we enjoy in America and helps create better jobs and spur economic growth. In particular, this paper focuses on how women benefit from the free flow of goods between countries and why they should support further efforts to liberalize the global market.