Republicans: Expand free trade. More aggressive advocates of free-trade agreements than their Democratic counterparts, Republicans insist that decreasing trade barriers with other nations is necessary to compete in the global economy. Most supported the Central American Free Trade Agreement (cafta). At the same time, some Republicans have pushed for tougher laws to protect American patents and technologyparticularly from piracy by the Chinese.
Democrats: Embrace fair or "smart" trade. Democrats were largely opposed to cafta and argue that free-trade agreements must be fair. That means including labor and environmental protections, as well as retraining and providing other assistance to U.S. workers whose jobs are jeopardized by lowering economic barriers between countries. They want to enforce the protections guaranteed in past trade agreements.