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World Opinion on the Global Economy

November 19, 2009
This publication is now archived.

General Views of Globalization and International Trade

International polls find strong support for globalization, though views lean moderately toward the position that the pace of globalization is too fast. People generally see international trade as positive for their country, their self and family, consumers, and their nation’s companies. However, views are more mixed about the impact of international trade on jobs and the environment. Polling conducted in the spring of 2009—during the depths of the global recession—found some softening of majority support for globalization in general with majorities in many nations favoring a temporary increase in protectionism in light of the recession. Download full chapter (PDF).

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International Regulation of Financial Institutions

Global publics show very strong support for the broad idea of having a global regulating body to ensure that big financial institutions follow international standards. However publics are divided on whether nations should be free to regulate their own banks that operate internationally. This suggests that some people have not thought through the implications of international regulation of financial institutions. Download full chapter (PDF).

Including Labor and Environmental Standards in Trade Agreements

Consistent with concerns about the impact of international trade on jobs and the environment, overwhelming majorities around the world, including in developing countries, support including labor and environmental standards in trade agreements. Download full chapter (PDF).

Assessments of Countries’ Fairness in Trade

Inhabitants of developing countries generally see rich countries as not playing fair in trade negotiations with poor countries. Africans perceive that they do not benefit from trade as much as rich countries do. Europeans have mixed views on whether U.S. trade practices are fair, but lean toward seeing Japan as fair. Download full chapter (PDF).

Regional Trade Relations

Pacific Rim nations place a high priority on economic relations with each other and generally favor creating free trade relations with each other, though Americans have more mixed views. China, Japan, and South Korea favor a free trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN). They also favor an East Asia free trade area, but differ on whether to include the United States in it. Views are divided as to whether growing economic relations increase or decrease the likelihood of military conflict. Europeans and Americans favor a new initiative to enhance transatlantic trade and investment ties. Download full chapter (PDF).

The World Bank and IMF

In general, majorities in most countries express a positive view of the influence of international financial institutions, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). While both get mildly positive ratings in nearly all countries, the World Bank is more popular than the IMF and a few countries, particularly Argentina and Brazil, have distinctly negative views of the IMF. Publics in many beneficiary countries show high levels of enthusiasm, while those in donor countries are more modest in their support, though still predominantly positive. Download full chapter (PDF).

The World Trade Organization

The World Trade Organization has a positive international image and there is support for strengthening it. Most countries polled, including the United States, say that their government should comply with adverse WTO decisions. Download full chapter (PDF).

Global Corporations

Views of the international role of global corporations are mixed. Generally speaking, people are inclined to believe they have a positive influence internationally, but also lean toward not trusting them to operate in the best interests of their society. Africans, especially, hold a very positive view of global corporations and trust them to operate in the best interests of their society. Download full chapter (PDF).

Foreign Investment

Publics in most countries have a negative view of foreigners buying companies in their country. Download full chapter (PDF).

Trade and Poverty Reduction

Majorities in most developed and developing countries believe that, to reduce poverty, rich countries should allow more imports from developing countries. Download full chapter (PDF).

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