ABSTRACT

Given the economic inefficiency of protectionist policies, and the proven welfare gains to trading nations from post-war trade liberalization (Katzenstein 1985), the rise of the New Protectionism would seem an ominous, if not regressive trend in contemporary history. Such reversals of liberalization have occurred before (e.g. the 1930s), with grave consequences for global economic welfare (Milner 1988). Yet despite the increased use of quantitative restrictions, subsidies and contingent protection in the 1970s and 1980s, the total amount of world trade has actually continued to increase at a modest rate and shows no sign of declining (IMF 1988; Milner 1988; Gilpin 1987). Indeed, given the pressures to protect jobs under the recessionary conditions of the mid and late 1970s, the extent to which the liberal trading order has remained intact may be remarkable, when compared with the consequences of similar pressures at earlier historical junctures (Milner 1988).