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Transatlantic Trends 2020

International Trade

5 min read
Photo Credit: Travel mania / Shutterstock
Three years of tariffs, trade conflicts, and anti-EU rhetoric from the White House are not reflected in Americans' view of the transatlantic economic partnership—in fact, in the wake of the pandemic, an increased number of Americans believe the relationship benefits them. Not long ago a proposed transatlantic trade deal was riled in controversy. Yet clear majorities in all three countries support such a trade agreement, also after the pandemic.


How balanced is the economic relationship between the European Union and the United States?


Before the pandemic, a plurality of Americans and Germans found the economic relationship between the EU and the United States equally balanced, while almost half of French saw themselves disadvantaged. This holds largely true also after the coronavirus crisis.

Despite the impact of the pandemic on economies and global trade, opinions regarding the transatlantic economic relationship are largely unmoved. The Trump administration has argued that Europe takes advantage economically of the United States, but only a small minority of Americans agreed in January, and, interestingly, even fewer agree after the coronavirus outbreak.

A plurality of Americans (31%) found the relationship equally balanced. There was, however, a partisan divide—a small plurality of Republican respondents (29%) believed the EU-U.S. economic relationship benefited the EU more than the United States, while more Democrats (36%) and independents (34%) found it equally balanced. In Germany, a large plurality of respondents (42%) found the relationship equally balanced, while in France, nearly half of respondents (47%) found the relationship benefited the U.S. more. Generational divisions were striking in both the German and French cases. Older French respondents found the U.S. benefited more (69% of those ages 55+), while younger French respondents found the relationship equally balanced (36% of those ages 25-34). In contrast to the French case, older Germans found the relationship equally balanced (49% of those ages 55+), while younger Germans believed the U.S. benefited more (37% of 18-24 year olds).

Do you feel the current economic relationship between the European Union and the U.S. is…


BEFORE COVID-19
Sample: France 1004; Germany 1001; USA 1001. Expressed in % rounded up to the next unit for decimals .5 and higher.

After the coronavirus crisis, the results across all three countries remain largely the same. Only in France do a plurality see themselves disadvantaged (up 2 points from January), though in all countries a slightly higher number see their economy disadvantaged than advantaged. In Germany and France, we see almost no shift from the coronavirus crisis. There is a small increase in the number of American respondents who believe the transatlantic economic relationship favors the U.S. (up from 19% to 23%).

We also see a notable partisan shift, with a plurality of Republicans now finding the relationship equally balanced (from 27% in January to 32% now), while a higher number of Democrats and independents believe the relationship favors the United States (Democrats: up from 22% to 26%; independents: from 13% up to 20%). In both France and the United States it is respondents age 55 and older who perceive the relationship to be more beneficial to the other party.

Falling stocks, shrinking economies, and collapsing trade from the coronavirus crisis as well as trade disputes over medical equipment and vaccines seem not to have significantly soured views on the transatlantic economic partnership on either side of the Atlantic.


AFTER COVID-19
Sample: France 1000; Germany 1001; USA 1000. Expressed in % rounded up to the next unit for decimals .5 and higher.



Do you support a trade agreement between the European Union and the United States?


In January, respondents in all three countries supported a transatlantic trade agreement. In the midst of the pandemic, overall support for a trade agreement remains high across all countries, falling slightly in France.

Despite the failure of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and three years of trade disputes between the EU and United States, support for a transatlantic trade deal was high in January. Following the coronavirus outbreak, despite disrupted supply-chains and large economic downturns looming, opinions on transatlantic trade do not appear to have significantly changed.

The initial results in January showed that despite recent years of strained economic relations, there is still public support for a transatlantic trade agreement, in fact a majority in all three countries are for it. In France and Germany, 57% support it. In the United States, where support for such a deal has traditionally been the highest, support was at 62%. The majority of all age groups across each country supported a trade deal, with the strongest support from older respondents (65% of French and German and 75% of American age 55 and older). Despite partisan divides on many issues in the United States, a strong majority of Republicans, Democrats, and independents favored an agreement (64% of Republicans, 65% of Democrats and independents). An EU-U.S. trade deal enjoyed large support across the German and French political spectrums; the lowest support came from Germany’s left-wing Die Linke (47%).

To what extent do you support or oppose a trade agreement between the European Union and the United States?

BEFORE COVID-19
Sample: France 1004; Germany 1001; USA 1001. Expressed in % rounded up to the next unit for decimals .5 and higher.

In the wake of the coronavirus crisis, opinions about transatlantic trade have not changed significantly. A nearly unchanged majority of respondents still support a trade agreement (57% in Germany, 67% in the United States, 54% in France), with slightly less support in France and more in both the United States and Germany. Support for an agreement remains high across all age groups in all countries.

In Germany, support among older respondents (age 55 and older) has increased by five percentage points (from 65% to 70%), while in France, support among the same age group has decreased by nine points (down to 56%). Support in the United States among the same age group remains very strong (75% somewhat or strongly support).

There have been some small but significant shifts among politically affiliated respondents: support for an agreement has increased among both Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. (Republicans: up 5 points to 69%; Democrats: up 7 points to 72%). In Germany, support has increased slightly (2 points), and now even a majority of respondents from Germany’s left-wing Die Linke support a trade deal (from 47% in January to 59%).

 

AFTER COVID-19
Sample: France 1000; Germany 1001; USA 1000. Expressed in % rounded up to the next unit for decimals .5 and higher.