Warnings against protectionism often cite the Smoot-Hawley Act of 1930, which implemented tariffs on more than 20,000 imported goods to boost domestic production during the Great Depression. The legislation failed miserably – prices rose, consumption plummeted and production fell even further. It is the ultimate warning against lousy trade policy, still invoked against elected officials today.
But we don’t need to look all the way back to the 1930s to see the dangers of protectionism. Our current trade dispute with Canada, the EU and other trading partners is inspiring anti-trade policies from markets we’ve been working to open for decades.