Protectionism is on the rise. As Europe and the United States dig in for a trade war over steel tariffs, economists warn that we risk returning to the “inward-looking, mercantilist policies” of the 1970s (if not the tit-for-tat protectionism of the 1930s).

The Anglo-Saxon champions of globalisation, Britain and America, have apparently turned their back on the global order they helped to establish. The US under Donald Trump has pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, and wants to “renegotiate” NAFTA. Great Britain has said it hopes to conclude trade deals with countries around the world after Brexit, but the immediate consequences of leaving the Single Market will be new barriers to trade with Europe.

China, which only joined the WTO in 2001, is now emerging as one of the foremost defenders of global free trade via initiatives such as its proposed new Silk Road. We are also faced with the spectacle of an economically liberal, pro-free market France trying to convince a protectionist-inclined US to keep its markets open. Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!

We had a comment sent in on our “Suggest a Debate” page from Margardia, who asked if the US economy can survive protectionism. We wanted to take a broader approach, though.

Can the global economy survive protectionism? Will we return to the “new protectionism” of the 1970s, or the tit-for-tat trade wars of the 1930s? And will the consequences be just as devastating, or are we headed for a more humane form of globalisation? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – DenisenFamily

20 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Ivan Burrows


    No it can’t, National growth requires international trade but it looks like a trade war is about to begin between the USA and Brussels over the Russian gas line fiasco.

  2. avatar
    Bódis Kata

    Currently our global economy is under the threat of corporate and oligarch groups, the excessive concentration of global economic might in private hands.

    When countries can be sued or blackmailed by giga-corporations to allow the pollution of their lands and waters for the economic gain of those corporations, then our problems are *not* too much regulation/protectionism but rather too little, or the wrong kind.

    • avatar
      Akis Muto

      International trade and protectionism of national economy dont have to clash. The one nation offers what the other one wants to buy.
      Unrestricted and opportunistic trade gambles (like the “.com” in Europe) are not a vital part of trade between nations

    • avatar
      Ivan Burrows

      Akis Muto

      The problem arises when one nation demands certain safeguards for its businesses, investment protection for example. One side sees it as a legitimate necessity but the other side sees it as to much power by foreign companies.

      ‘All’ trade agreements have these sorts of safeguards in one form or another & have to be traded off against each other to reach an agreement.

      No international trade agreement is ever ‘unrestricted’.

  3. avatar
    Tonino Jankov

    Its always interesting to check what questions this George Soros – funded platform is asking

  4. avatar
    Jeremy Bornstein

    WTO was a significant overreach from GATT in a very negative way. There definitely needs to be huge monetary and trade/corporate law reform.

  5. avatar
    Stefano Zuzzi

    Depending what kind of protectionism are you meaning about:
    The Italian cuisine is a mix of Arab, Roman and Greek culture.
    I didn’t ran for a protectionism before but,
    if you’re trying to imitate our cuisine, I ‘d ran as a protectionist too.

  6. avatar
    Azad Maruf

    The E.u. parliament should not be so rude towards the foreign victims of U.K. s serious human rights violation rised to E.c.h.r before….That days your agreements with U.K. would have costed your parliamentary duties but today there is not any lose to support us…..U.K. s serious human rights violations were explained with solid evidences to you and several International bodies before…..To support my dossier for authourised biography published with accordances to the other victims used by u.k. is should be a welcomed duty….That sad ends you are going through now is started several years ago for us…..As you can confirm, cruelity can not last for ever and being bad to the weakers does not mean that you are not going to treat the strongers the same once you had that power…..

  7. avatar
    Paul X

    “economically liberal, pro-free market France trying to convince a protectionist-inclined US to keep its markets open”

    So France, which has an agriculture industry highly subsidised by CAP, would expect America to keep its market freely open? …sounds like “Avoir votre gâteau et le manger”

  8. avatar

    Somebody doesn’t get it, or just pretend it doesn’t get it. The “free global trade” so far created more victims rather than prosperous individuals.

  9. avatar
    catherine benning

    Can the global economy survive protectionism?

    Yes, of course it can. In fact, it is the only hope for it.

    Globalism is impoverishing everybody except the already extremely wealthy.

  10. avatar
    catherine benning

    Protectionism is the one and ‘only’ way to save Globalism. Of course this is unfashionable, but, what is fashionable is destruction of the European people and their way of life.

    What dxxk head came up with this little poke.

  11. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar

    France is the epitome of protectionism – without it, France’s economy would have died long ago!

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