Protectionism

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DEFINITION of 'Protectionism'

Government actions and policies that restrict or restrain international trade, often done with the intent of protecting local businesses and jobs from foreign competition. Typical methods of protectionism are import tariffs, quotas, subsidies or tax cuts to local businesses and direct state intervention.

BREAKING DOWN 'Protectionism'

Any time a government undertakes any of these actions, they are engaging in protectionism. There is significant debate surrounding the merits of protectionism. Critics argue that, over the long term, protectionism often ends up hurting the people it is intended to protect and often promotes free trade as a superior alternative to protectionism.

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