When you go to the grocery store or department store you will see the affects of free trade. Products such as clothes and furniture, that are made in China or Brazil are being sold for similar prices as those that are coming from companies located just down the street. Free trade agreements allow goods and capital to be traded between different companies without things like tariffs, taxes or import quotas to overall impede the process. If you're going to working in international business than this is certainly something that you should understand.
The central idea behind free trade agreements is that they will introduce competition in the market and therefore lower prices to the consumers. For example, if a Canadian firm were the only ones able to offer radiation protection to companies in need than they could charge whatever they wanted for their products. By allowing an American firm to offer a similar product both are going to need to compete in price to stay in business. This also gives consumers the choice of buying the product that they think is best.
Another item on the pro side for free trade is that it encourages innovation. When one company introduced a new environmentally friendly swim diaper that is embraced by mothers throughout the world other companies will want to create something even better to get some of that business. Free trade has also been responsible for encouraging international relationships between a number of different industries and businesses.
While there are many reported benefits to free trade agreements there are also those who see its disadvantages. Allow those to come in and sell products from all over the world can create problems for domestic producers that cannot keep up with larger companies' resources. Anyone living from Texas to Alberta has seen small businesses fall when a large corporation comes to town.
Also, because many of the producers in other countries are able to create their products for a fraction of the cost they are able to offer those goods at a lower price. Many people object to this because those products were created with workers dealing with unsafe conditions where they are not properly compensated. While shopping for handcrafted clothing could never be sold for these low prices in your own community. This is a major concern both for those seeking to support local businesses and those that are against the labor conditions in other countries. As it happens though, there are many unsafe working conditions in our own community and employees do work under dangerous circumstances at time. If you believe this describes your workplace or you are an employee who wants to improve workplace standards for your employees, you should contact the appropriate government agency. You can find more information on the federal labour standards website.
When you're looking at an issue as complicated and detailed as free trade it will take some time to understand all of the pros and cons. But no one can deny that the ability of countries to trade freely with one another is only growing. So it might just be a concept that we all will need to eventually embrace despite its shortcomings.