Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 27

free trade - History of free trade, Criticism of Free trade, Alternatives to free trade

tariffs countries barriers

An economic doctrine that trade between countries should not be controlled in any way; there should be no tariffs or other barriers. The problems which result from tariffs were identified by Adam Smith in 1776, and the cause of free trade, taken up by Sir Robert Peel, led to the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846. Since the 19th-c, tariff barriers have become very common, but groups of countries may agree to lower or remove them, forming a free-trade area, as in the case of the EU, and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (now the World Trade Organization) has made considerable progress in reducing them worldwide.

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