Then there are the "free" trade agreements. I've read of complaints from Canadians about NAFTA, though the Australians aren't saying much about their agreement, and neither are the Mexicans. Not that I've read, anyway. When the Australian agreement was signed, it was widely panned as giving a lot to the U.S. and little to Australia. As far a NZ is concerned, any free trade agreement that excludes agriculture and its derivatives (timber, meat, dairy for instance) is a waste of ink. There is no prospect of getting agriculture included in a free trade agreement with the U.S. (or the E.U.).
Agreements are just that, agreements. Both sides sit down and hammer out a compromise on trade policy that they believe will be mutually beneficial. The legislatures vote on whether or not to approve them, and only then are they put into place. Granted, one side (in this case the U.S.) generally negotiates from a position of greater strength (i.e., they have more to offer than the other side), but if the agreement is beneficial, or perceived as beneficial, it will not be accepted.
They are always a compromise, so neither side is going to be completely happy.
Free trade, in my view, is free. It doesn't need governmental agreements or tariff restrictions or quotas. It also doesn't exist. Governments use the term 'free trade agreement' to describe agreements that are anything but. When Republicans are in power here, they tend to be closer to free trade than when Democrats are in power, although there is no guarantee that this will be the case. In any case, by the time the agreement is signed, it will be hundreds or thousands of pages long, with varying restrictions on everything traded between the two. Meanwhile, trading partners will have already begun the process of decided how to adjust their marketing proceedures to obtain the best deal in the face of the new restrictions.
Sometimes these restrictions backfire, and they help the people their supposed to hurt and hurt the people their supposed to help. Always, it seems, there is someone who has already read the fine print and figured out a way to turn the changes to his advantage.
A number of years back, we decided to punish the evil government of South Africa by restricting imports from that nation. However, that nation was the primary exporter of Chromium, which was necessary for us to make stainless steel, among other things. Naturally, we began buying more Chromium from other exporting nations, buying it in levels far beyond their production capabilities. No one seemed to question this, or question the fact that South African Chromium production seemed not to be dropping. We were being noble, paying a premium for our Chromium, enriching lots of people between us and South Africa, where the Chromium was ultimately coming from. It was a sham, but it made some people feel good knowing that we were ripping off our own consumers and enriching foreign traders, all for a good cause.
Such is life.