The idea behind free trade deals the US makes with other countries is that the standard of living will be raised in those other countries and in turn will buy more stuff from the US. And that is what happened until greed kicked in – everyone’s greed.
As an example against free trade agreements is Mexico and that manufacturing is down. At one time it was going up, Mexican workers had more money and were buying more at home and in the US. They had more money because wages went up which drove prices up. But the manufacturers needed low wages to stay competitive in the US market where everyone wants low prices and high wages, which is how jobs headed overseas or were automated.
Now there is the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement which will work just as NAFTA did, transient prosperity followed a decline to a level lower then it was before.
So success or failure?
Each free trade agreement should automatically become part of previous free trade agreements to eventually achieve global free trade, because getting a global agreement, all at one time, would be impossible. But there would be no place to hide from “genuine” price increases instead of “artificially” created low ones.
For free trade to work, it must be global without restriction and each nation become a component of the whole. I’m not talking world government, just nations working together like people work together to achieve a goal. It won’t achieve world peace, but just maybe some tranquility by getting people to talk to one another.
And there must be a caveat that no nation can infringe on another as Russia has done in Georgia and Ukraine without UN approval. Every nation must be left to itself to work out it’s problems, that’s how lasting solutions are created. America wasn’t suddenly the America we know today, it took a hundred years and one massive civil war along with several smaller ones.
(no, I don’t like the UN, but it’s the best we have)