Infant-Industry Theory

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DEFINITION of 'Infant-Industry Theory'

The supposition that emerging domestic industries need protection against international competition until they become mature and stable. In economics, an infant industry is one that is new and in its early stages of development, and not yet capable of competing against established industry competitors.

BREAKING DOWN 'Infant-Industry Theory'

Infant-industry theorists argue that industries in developing sectors of the economy need to be protected to keep international competitors from damaging or destroying the domestic infant industry. In response to these arguments, governments may enact import duties, tariffs, quotas and exchange rate controls to prevent international competitors from matching or beating the prices of an infant industry, thereby giving the infant industry time to develop and stabilize.


Infant-industry theory holds that once the emerging industry is stable enough to compete internationally, any protective measures introduced, such as tariffs, are intended to be removed. In practice, this is not always the case because the various protections that were imposed may be difficult to remove.

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