The Economics and Ideology of Free Trade
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The Economics and Ideology of Free Trade

An Historical Review

Leonard Gomes

The Economics and Ideology of Free Trade makes an important contribution to the debate on globalization by providing much needed intellectual and historical perspective on the issue of Free Trade versus Protection.
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Chapter 8: The First Era of Globalization and After 1860–1960

Leonard Gomes


8. The first era of globalisation and after 1860–1960 8.1 EUROPEAN TARIFF HISTORY This chapter tells the story of the historical swings or alternating periods between freer trade and protection in Europe over the period 1860–1960: (1) the ‘low-tariff’ era (1860s to late 1870s); (2) the return to protectionism, or the backlash against free trade in the 1880s and 1890s. It therefore covers the period now commonly characterised as the first major period of globalisation, that is, up to the eve of the Great War (1914–18); followed by (3) the Great Depression of the late 1920s and 1930s, including the problems of postwar adjustment and those arising from the desire to get back to the certainties of the tranquil period before the war; but a period also associated with economic nationalism, protectionism and the collapse of the world economy in the 1930s; (4) post-1945 efforts to get back to an open trade and financial system through multilateral trade negotiations and cooperative world monetary arrangements which resulted in (5) in the second or current phase of globalisation starting from the 1970s. The Low-Tariff Era Following this chronological sequence of events, attitudes and policies, we start with the low-tariff era. This came into being in two stages: (1) Britain’s unilateral adoption of free trade from the 1840s onwards, famously signalled by the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846; and (2) the Anglo-French commercial treaty of 1860 which soon afterwards set the pattern for a series of...

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