The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Corn Laws, Free Trade and Protectionism

  • John Nye
Reference work entry


In the 1840s, Britain repealed the export restrictions and import duties on wheat known as the Corn Laws. But the traditional story of British free trade was complicated by an unwillingness to eliminate the most binding tariffs on wine and other consumables. In contrast, Britain’s avowedly protectionist rival France had a more liberal trade policy than did Britain for most of the 19th century. Only with the 1860 Anglo–French Treaty of Commerce did Britain and France both move to uniformly low tariffs on goods and services, ushering in a period of genuinely free trade throughout Europe.


Anti-Corn Law League Chevalier, M. Cobden, R. Comparative advantage Corn Laws Excise taxes Free trade Income tax Industrial Revolution Infant-industry protection Mercantilism Mun, T. Protection Ricardo, D. Scottish Enlightenment Smith, A. Specie Tariffs Trade deficit World Trade Organization 

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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Nye
    • 1
  1. 1.