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International Trade Since the Colonial Period

The United States did not become a world leader in trade until the Great Depression of the 1930s. However, international trade is as old as the founding of the American Colonies. There is a significant reference to trade in the U.S. Constitution, in Article I, Section 8: "The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises...but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States; To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian Tribes" (U.S., 1787, 2). As with many nations, the history of American international trade policy is one that veers between free markets and protectionism to varying degrees.

Numerous factors shape the degree to which markets remain "free" and the level of protectionism put in place. Through various eras of history and industry, U.S. trade policy has varied dramatically. Nevertheless, as a developed nation the U.S. continues to rely on exporting goods and importing raw materials for economic success. Due to its monumental significance to the U.S. economy and American industry and in the wake of globalizations, today's policymakers and elected officials place greater emphasis on international trade policy than ever before in history.

The history of international trade in the U.S. is also one of conflict and antagonism both between the U.S. and other nations and among U.S. policymakers. In International Trade Theory and Policy, Giancarlo Gandolfo (1998) explains the reason for such conflicts and the distinct nature of international versus domestic trade: "The mere presence of different countries as distinct political entities each with its own frontiers gives rise to a series of problems which do not occur in general economics, such as the levying of duties and other impediments to trade, the existence of different national currencies whose relative prices (the exchange rate...

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International Trade Since the Colonial Period . (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:39, May 20, 2019, from