The United States: Trade Policy Sleeping – Short Nap or Long Slumber?

Authored by: Gary Hufbauer , Kati Suominen

The Ashgate Research Companion To International Trade Policy

Print publication date:  July  2012
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781409408352
eBook ISBN: 9781315613086
Adobe ISBN: 9781317043096


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Three long phases, each lasting about 70 years, can be discerned in US trade policy. Between the founding of the Republic in 1788 and the Civil War in 1861, trade policy was rather liberal. For a span of 73 years, the agrarian South, an exporting region, dominated the Congress; consequently, tariffs were imposed to raise revenue and not to protect Northern industry. After the Civil War ended in 1865 until the Smoot–Hawley Tariff of 1930, a span of 65 years, the general direction of trade policy was protection and more protection. With a very few exceptions (notably the Underwood Tariff of 1913), Northern and Midwestern industrial interests controlled Congress and the name of the game was to insulate American manufacturing firms from British and German competition.

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