Regulatory Protectionism: A Hidden Threat to Free Trade
You may have heard media stories blaming imported products for making us sick and destroying the environment. Policymakers often point to these dangers to promote new regulatory requirements or tougher inspections. What they don’t tell you is how those regulations will give a competitive advantage to domestic industry.
Regulatory protectionism, like other trade barriers, imposes costs on consumers, importers, and downstream businesses while harming the U.S. economy. Protectionist domestic regulations are being challenged more frequently at the World Trade Organization and have become a major sticking point in trans‐Pacific and trans‐Atlantic trade negotiations.
Is it possible to reduce the risk of protectionist influence in health, safety, and environmental regulation? Should international law prohibit domestic regulations that unnecessarily inhibit trade? A new Cato Policy Analysis says the answer is “yes” and calls on policymakers and activists to be more cautious of domestic industry influence. Our distinguished panel will discuss the political origins of regulatory protectionism and consider how the United States might keep its laws and regulations free of protectionism and prevent future trade disputes.