Corn Laws, Free Trade and Protectionism
In the 1840s, Britain repealed the export restrictions and import duties on wheat known as the Corn Laws. But the traditional story of British free trade was complicated by an unwillingness to eliminate the most binding tariffs on wine and other consumables. In contrast, Britain’s avowedly protectionist rival France had a more liberal trade policy than did Britain for most of the 19th century. Only with the 1860 Anglo–French Treaty of Commerce did Britain and France both move to uniformly low tariffs on goods and services, ushering in a period of genuinely free trade throughout Europe.
KeywordsAnti-Corn Law League Chevalier, M. Cobden, R. Comparative advantage Corn Laws Excise taxes Free trade Income tax Industrial Revolution Infant-industry protection Mercantilism Mun, T. Protection Ricardo, D. Scottish Enlightenment Smith, A. Specie Tariffs Trade deficit World Trade Organization
- Hilton, B. 1977. Corn, cash and commerce: The economic policies of the Tory government 1815–1830. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Irwin, D.A. 1996. Against the tide: An intellectual history of free trade. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Mun, T. 1664. England’s treasure by forraign trade. London: Printed by J.G. for Thomas Clark.Google Scholar
- Schonhardt-Bailey, C. (ed.). 1997. The rise of free trade. Vol. 1, Protectionism and its critics, 1815–1837. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Smith, A. 1776. An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976.Google Scholar