Some countries, such as Britain in the nineteenth century and Chile and China in recent decades, have undertaken unilateral tariff reductions – reductions made independently and without reciprocal action by other countries. The advantage of unilateral free trade is that a country can reap the benefits of free trade immediately. Countries that lower trade barriers by themselves do not have to postpone reform while they try to persuade other nations to follow suit. The gains from such trade liberalization are substantial: several studies have shown that income grows more rapidly in countries open to international trade than in those more closed to trade. Dramatic illustrations of this phenomenon include China’s rapid growth after 1978 and India’s after 1991, those dates indicating when major trade reforms took place.
Previous post: More Trade, More Cooperation