What Are Some Arguments for and Against Protectionism?

Protectionists argue that protectionism is effective because it protects national economies and standards of living, and it protects infant companies from unfair global competition. On the other hand, protectionism inhibits free trade and slows down the growth of the global economy, argues BBC News.

Governments implement protectionist measures and policies, such as subsidies, quotas and tariffs, and argue that they are effective in saving domestic enterprises and overcoming economic recession and unemployment. However, it is argued that protectionist measures are counterproductive because they can have a negative effect on a country’s economic growth, notes The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Protectionists believe that restraining international trade allows infant companies to grow to a stage where they can compete fairly with large companies and gain from the economies of scale. They also argue that countries do not benefit equally from the comparative advantage of international trade because capital flows to where costs are lowest. Protectionism is also argued to be effective because it ensures that domestic products are at an advantage over foreign goods, states Wikipedia.

Opponents of protectionism argue that it is narrow-minded and short-sighted. This is because it is not effective in addressing the problems of economic growth and unemployment, asserts BBC News. They also argue that free trade promotes exchange of capital and ideas, keeps prices low, and improves the standards of living, reveals CNN Money. Protectionism is also argued to be one of the causes of war. This is because of the protectionist policies among European countries that preceded the two World Wars.