In international trade, a government-imposed limit on the quantity of goods and services that may be exported or imported over a specified period of time. Quotas are more effective than tariffs in restricting trade, since they limit the availability of goods rather than simply increasing their price. By limiting foreign goods, a quota aims to allow domestic goods to compete more successfully, though the price of the goods may also rise. Quotas restricting trade were first imposed on a large scale during World War I. In the 1920s, quotas were progressively abolished and replaced by tariffs, but their use was revived in the wave of protectionism set off by the Great Depression. After World War II, the western European countries began a gradual dismantling of quantitative import restrictions, but the U.S. was slower to discard them. Seealso free trade; GATT.
Learn more about quota with a free trial on Britannica.com.