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The Myth of Free-Trade Britain and Fortress France: Tariffs and Trade in the Nineteenth Century

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  • Nye, John Vincent

Abstract

This examination of official commercial statistics suggests that the conventional wisdom regarding early free-trade efforts of Britain and France is wrong. French average tariff levels were, surprisingly, consistently below those of Britain throughout most of the nineteenth century, even after the abolition of the Corn Laws and before passage of the 1860 Treaty of Commerce. Previous scholarship has focused on French commercial policies covering a narrow range of items and has largely ignored the overall trade policies of both nations. This study moves us further away from stories of development and trade confined to a few “leading†sectors.

Suggested Citation

  • Nye, John Vincent, 1991. "The Myth of Free-Trade Britain and Fortress France: Tariffs and Trade in the Nineteenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 51(1), pages 23-46, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:51:y:1991:i:01:p:23-46_03
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    Cited by:

    1. O'Rourke, Kevin H., 1997. "Measuring protection: a cautionary tale," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 169-183, June.
    2. Tena-Junguito, Antonio & Lampe, Markus & Fernandes, Felipe Tã‚Mega, 2012. "How Much Trade Liberalization Was There in the World Before and After Cobden-Chevalier?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 72(3), pages 708-740, August.
    3. Stéphane BECUWE & Bertrand BLANCHETON, 2011. "Tariff growth paradox between 1850 and 1913: a critical survey (In French)," Cahiers du GREThA (2007-2019) 2011-24, Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée (GREThA).
    4. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/670 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Brian D. Varian, 2018. "Anglo†American trade costs during the first era of globalization: the contribution of a bilateral tariff series," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 71(1), pages 190-212, February.
    6. Accominotti, Olivier & Flandreau, Marc, 2005. "Does Bilateralism Promote Trade? Nineteenth Century Liberalization Revisited," CEPR Discussion Papers 5423, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Sibylle H. Lehmann and Kevin H. O'Rourke, 2008. "The structure of protection and growth in the late 19th century," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp269, IIIS.
    8. Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2003. "Was It Stolper-Samuelson, Infant Industry or Something Else? World Trade Tariffs 1789-1938," NBER Working Papers 9656, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Vincent Bignon & Cecilia Garcia-Peñalosa, 2016. "Protectionism and the Education-Fertility Trade-off in Late 19th Century France," AMSE Working Papers 1604, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, France, revised Jan 2016.
    10. Paulo Reis Mourao, 2015. "Discussing Chevalier’s Data on the Efficiency of Tariffs for American and French Canals in the 1830s," SAGE Open, , vol. 5(2), pages 21582440155, April.
    11. Kris James Mitchener & Marc Weidenmier, 2008. "Trade and Empire," NBER Working Papers 13765, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Cagé, Julia & Gadenne, Lucie, 2018. "Tax revenues and the fiscal cost of trade liberalization, 1792–2006," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 1-24.
    13. Vincent Bignon & Cecilia Garcia-Peñalosa, 2018. "The Toll of Tariffs: Protectionism, Education and Fertility in Late 19th Century France," Working papers 690, Banque de France.
    14. Ha-Joon Chang, 2019. "Kicking away the ladder – globalisation and economic development in historical perspective," Chapters, in: Jonathan Michie (ed.),The Handbook of Globalisation, Third Edition, chapter 24, pages 392-399, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    15. Lampe, Markus, 2009. "Effects of Bilateralism and the MFN Clause on International Trade: Evidence for the Cobden-Chevalier Network, 1860-1875," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 1012-1040, December.
    16. Kevin H. O'Rourke & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 1995. "Around the European periphery 1870-1913 : globalization, schooling and growth," Working Papers 199517, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    17. Michel Fouquin & Jules Hugot, 2016. "Back to the Future: International Trade Costs and the Two Globalizations," Vniversitas Económica 015130, Universidad Javeriana - Bogotá.
    18. Sami Dakhlia & John Nye, 2004. "Tax Britannica: Nineteenth Century Tariffs and British National Income," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 121(3), pages 309-333, February.
    19. Bohlin, Jan, 2005. "Tariff protection in Sweden 1885–1914," Göteborg Papers in Economic History 1, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economic History.
    20. José Alves, 2018. "Tax incidence and fiscal systems: some problems on tax compared history in XIX and XX centuries," Working Papers REM 2018/45, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, REM, Universidade de Lisboa.

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