U.S. trade barriers hurt U.S. citizens, as consumers, taxpayers, workers, producers, and investors. Americans would be better off if we simply undertook our own reforms – on tariffs, regulations, and other artificial impediments to commerce – without regard for what other governments do.

Although tariffs and other trade barriers have been reduced considerably since the end of the Second World War, U.S. policy continues to accommodate egregious amounts of protectionism: we have “Buy American” rules that restrict most government procurement spending to U.S. suppliers, ensuring that taxpayers get the smallest bang for their buck; heavily protected service industries, such as commercial air service and shipping, which drive up transportation costs and raises the prices of nearly everything Americans consume; apparently interminable farm subsidies; quotas and high tariffs on imported sugar; high tariffs on basic consumer products, such as clothing and footwear; energy export restrictions; the market-distorting cronyism of the Export-Import bank; antidumping duties that strangle downstream industries and tax consumers; regulatory protectionism masquerading as public health and safety precautions; protectionist rules of origin and local content requirements that limit trade’s benefits; and restrictions on foreign investment.

On this page you will find Cato’s analyses and policy prescriptions for all manners of trade and investment protectionism.

More on Trade Policy Prescriptions

Commentary

Cato Studies

Renegotiating NAFTA in the Era of Trump: Keeping the Trade Liberalization In and the Protectionism Out

By Simon Lester, Inu Manak, and Daniel J. Ikenson. Working Paper No. 46. August 14, 2017.

Cybersecurity or Protectionism? Defusing the Most Volatile Issue in the U.S.–China Relationship

By Daniel J. Ikenson. Policy Analysis No. 815. July 13, 2017.

Is the Doha Round Over? The WTO’s Negotiating Agenda for 2016 and Beyond

By Simon Lester. Free Trade Bulletin No. 64. February 11, 2016.

Articles

Rethinking the International Investment Law System

Simon Lester. Journal of World Trade. Vol. 49. No. 2. 2015.

A Call for Integration

Simon Lester. The International Economy. November 2014.

Financial Services in the TTIP: Making the Prudential Exception Work

Inu Barbee and Simon Lester. Georgetown Journal of International Law. Vol. 45. No. 4. 2014.

Cato Reviews & Journals

Really Opening Up the American Skies

Kenneth J. Button. Regulation. Spring 2014.

Events

Dealing with China’s Steel Overcapacity

Featuring Daniel R. Pearson and Daniel J. Ikenson. October 5, 2016. Policy Forum.