Overview of Free Trade Barriers

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Throughout history nations have utilized trade barriers such as tariffs and embargoes to regulate trade among other nations (Bartlett, 1998). The purpose of such trade barriers was to provide safeguards for a nation's imports and exports. The philosophy surrounding the use of trade barriers has changed from time to time with there being periods when they were used extensively and periods when they were abandoned entirely. Prior to the First World War international trade was flourishing and although tariffs were being used by a variety of nations they did little to discourage trade. During and after the War, however, trading barriers between nations put heavy burdens on international trade and by the time that the Great Depression struck world trade had reached a point of near stagnation (Madsen, 2001). The United States and Great Britain in the waning days of the Second World War recognized that a resumption of international trade was necessary in order to assist the war torn European economy. In an attempt to avoid the heavy trade barriers that were in operation prior to the War, the United States injected millions of dollars in aid in order to induce world trade. Such measures worked for a short period but a more permanent solution was necessary and there was a split of opinion on what the permanent solution should be. The attempts at reaching a solution became the source of considerable debate and as time progressed the situation became quite acrimonious. The concept
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