Trade’s many enemies like to portray a world of evil multinationals moving jobs to third world countries where they take unfair advantage of the natives and foul up the environment. As shown in the following article this is not necessarily the case.
Some may complain this is only one factory and in general trade exploits foreign workers, harms domestic workers and ruins the environment. I’m sure there are cases where this happen but in the aggregage where is the evidence. Presumably if foreign workers had worse prospects at multinationals, they wouldn’t work there. Economic evidence seems to indicate multinationals pay better than domestic firms and provide other benefits (one example study).
Since trade lowers prices and greater variety of goods it is unequivically beneficial to consumers. But does it hurt domestic workers? If a factory moves offshore and its workers are laid off then it MAY hurt them. Some may find better jobs however. It is likely also that decreased costs to others will great other jobs. If for instance the price of steel dropped by half, prices of cars and appliances would drop. When prices drop people buy more and more workers are needed to produce these goods.
It is true that there are other countries with laxer environmental standards than ours. Are there are some with stricter. When trade gets restricted (such as the steel safeguards), the distinction is rarely made. As the above article shows, productions of individual goods abroad is not necessarily going to be dirtier than here is the US. If you really favor restricting trade for environmental reasons, then it should be on a targeted basis with clear analysis as to what the total environmental costs are there and here. And also keep in mind that as countries get richer, their citizens tend to require a cleaner environment. Making countries richer through trade is probably be a good way to make them cleaner too.