As the United States continues to navigate domestic political divisions, it is experiencing an improved image abroad. The first year of the Biden Administration has seen a considerable increase in expectations that the U.S. will have a positive influence on world affairs in the next decade, according to the 12th year of polling by Ipsos for the Halifax International Security Forum. Across 28 countries surveyed, an average of 62% say that the U.S. will have an overall positive influence, up 12 points since last year. Canada (averaging at 80%) and Germany (77%) remain the two countries mostly widely expected to have a positive influence.
These are some of the findings of a survey of more than 22,000 adults conducted on Ipsos’ Global Advisor online platform between September 24 and October 8, 2021.
Uptick in positive views of U.S. influence most notable change vs. 2020
The U.S. is the only country or international institution measured showing any notable change in the perception of its influence since last year (+12 points, as previously noted). Two show an uptick of 2 points (France and the European Union, both to 72%) while a few more show a drop of 3 points (Iran to 24%) or 2 points (Saudi Arabia to 40%, India to 48%, and Great Britain to 64%).
U.S. image up in nearly all countries
Under the presidency of Donald Trump, the U.S. saw a marked decline in the average proportions of adults across the world expecting it would have a positive influence with lows of 50% in 2018 and 2020. The current results reflect the most optimistic view of American influence since the final months of Barack Obama’s presidency in 2016 when a global country average of 64% believed it would be positive.
Since the election of Joe Biden, positive views about U.S. influence have gained in prevalence in nearly every country surveyed. The proportion of those saying the U.S. will have a positive influence shows a significant increase since last year in 22 of the 27 countries surveyed (excluding the U.S.), with gains of proportions of 10 points or more in most cases. Those showing the largest increases from last year include Germany (+25 points to 47%), South Korea (+24 to 79%), Spain (+23 to 63%), Canada (+23 to 53%), and the Netherlands (+23 to 51%).
No rebound for China after last year’s dip
The improved U.S. standing contrasts with the stagnation of China’s image. Last year, following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the average proportion of adults saying China will have a positive influence on world affairs had dropped from its level of 2019 by 11 points to 42%. It has barely changed since then and sits at 43% this year. China now ranks in the bottom third of countries based on their positive influence score.
Canada and Germany still at the top
Canada and Germany remain the two countries mostly widely expected to have a positive influence on world affairs over the next decade – by global country averages of 80% and 77%, respectively. Canada and Germany have held the top two spots in each of the past six years.
Afghanistan and Iran at the bottom
Afghanistan (global country average of 19%) and Iran (24%) are the two countries measured in the survey that are least widely expected to have a positive influence.
Diverse views of countries and organisations across the world
The assessment of the influence of many countries and organizations is not uniform around the world. The most polarizing countries and organizations measured are those showing an especially large difference between their positive influence percentages in the country where it highest (excluding itself) and where it is lowest. By this measure, the most polarizing countries are Russia (with a difference of 71 points between 85% of positive views in China and only 14% in Poland), Saudi Arabia (59), and China (55). In contrast, the range of views is much narrower when it comes to the positive influence of the United Nations (25), Germany (25), and the E.U. (31).
Here’s where the expectation of the U.S., Canada, China, the E.U., and NATO is highest and lowest:
- U.S. (62% global country average):
- Highest in Peru (84%), India (84%), South Korea (79%), Colombia (78%), and Brazil (77%)
- Lowest in Turkey (36%), Russia (37%), China (41%), Germany (47%), and Belgium (48%)
- Canada (80% global country average):
- Highest in Colombia (91%), Mexico (90%), Peru (89%), South Korea (88%), and Argentina (86%)
- Lowest in China (53%), Russia (60%), Saudi Arabia (63%), Turkey (70%), and Italy (73%)
- China (43% global country average)
- Highest in Russia (76%), Peru (75%), Mexico (74%), Malaysia (70%), Brazil (64%), and South Africa (64%)
- Lowest in Canada (21%), South Korea (21%), Sweden (21%), Germany (23%), and the U.S. (23%)
- NATO (60% global country average):
- Highest in Poland (80%), India (73%), the Netherlands (70%), Hungary (69%), and Great Britain (68%)
- Lowest in Russia (32%), Argentina (48%), Saudi Arabia (48%), France (51%), China (51%), and Chile (51%)
- E.U. (72% global country average):
- Highest in Columbia (84%), Peru (83%), Mexico (82%), India (81%), and Spain (80%)
- Lowest in Russia (53%), Turkey (57%), Great Britain (60%), Belgium (63%), and Saudi Arabia (63%)