Trade War


DEFINITION of 'Trade War'

A negative side effect of protectionism that occurs when Country A raises tariffs on Country B's imports in retaliation for Country B raising tarrifs on Country A's imports. Trade wars may be instigated when one country perceives another country's trading practices to be unfair or when domestic trade unions pressure politicians to make imported goods less attractive to consumers. Trade wars are also a result of a misunderstanding of the widespread benefits of free trade.


A trade war that begins in one sector can grow to affect other sectors. Likewise, a trade war that begins between two countries can affect other countries not initially involved in the trade war. A trade war can be distinguished from other actions that have a detrimental effect on the trading relationship between two countries in that its goals are related specifically to trade (whereas sanctions, for example, also negatively affect free trade, but may have humanitarian or war-related goals).

  1. Tariff

    A tax imposed on imported goods and services. Tariffs are used ...
  2. Fair Trade Price

    A minimum price paid for certain agricultural products imported ...
  3. Bidding War

    A situation where two or more buyers are so interested in an ...
  4. Trade Sanction

    A trade penalty imposed by one nation onto one or more other ...
  5. Quota

    A government-imposed trade restriction that limits the number, ...
  6. Protectionism

    Government actions and policies that restrict or restrain international ...
Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    What Is International Trade?

    Everyone's talking about globalization, so we explain what is it and why some oppose it.
  2. Economics

    Globalization: Progress Or Profiteering?

    Proponents of globalization argue that it helps the economies of developing nations and makes goods cheaper, while critics say that globalization reduces domestic jobs and exploits foreign workers. ...
  3. Economics

    The Basics Of Tariffs And Trade Barriers

    Everything you need to know - from the different types of tariffs to their effects on the local economy.
  4. Economics

    What Is The World Trade Organization?

    The WTO sets the global rules of trade. But what exactly does it do and why do so many oppose it?
  5. Economics

    Why the Euro Failed to Become the World's Reserve Currency

    Examine the current state of the U.S. dollar as the world's reserve currency; learn the major reasons why the euro has failed to replace it in that capacity.
  6. Economics

    The 4 Countries That Produce the Most Food

    Learn about the four food superpowers -- China, India, the United States and Brazil -- and what sets them apart from the rest of the world.
  7. Economics

    These Will Be the World's Top Economies in 2020

    Discover the current economic forces that are anticipated to significantly shift the landscape of the world's most powerful economies over the next decade.
  8. Stock Analysis

    The 5 Biggest Russian Oil Companies

    Discover the top Russian oil companies by production volume and find out more about their domestic and international business operations.
  9. Fundamental Analysis

    Emerging Markets: Analyzing Colombia's GDP

    With a backdrop of armed rebels and drug cartels, the journey for the Colombian economy has been anything but easy.
  10. Investing

    How to Win More by Losing Less in Today’s Markets

    The further you fall, the harder it is to climb back up. It’s a universal truth that is painfully apparent in the investing world.
  1. How do standby letters of credit help facilitate international trade?

    The nature of international trade inherently creates significant exposure to counterparty risk for those involved. Two parties ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. When do I need a letter of credit?

    A letter of credit, sometimes referred to as a documentary credit, acts as a promissory note from a financial institution, ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. When has the United States run its largest trade deficits?

    In macroeconomics, balance of trade is one of the leading economic metrics that determines the trading relationship of a ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Which is more important to a nation's economy, the balance of trade or the balance ...

    There is no question the composition of a country's balance of payments is more important than its balance of trade. This ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What is the difference between Cost and Freight (CFR) and Free on Board (FOB)?

    The difference between cost and freight (CFR) and free on board (FOB) lies in who has responsibility for various shipping ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What is the difference between cost and freight (CFR) and cost, insurance and freight ...

    The difference between cost and freight (CFR) and cost, insurance and freight (CIF) is essentially the requirement under ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Section 1231 Property

    A tax term relating to depreciable business property that has been held for over a year. Section 1231 property includes buildings, ...
  2. Term Deposit

    A deposit held at a financial institution that has a fixed term, and guarantees return of principal.
  3. Zero-Sum Game

    A situation in which one person’s gain is equivalent to another’s loss, so that the net change in wealth or benefit is zero. ...
  4. Capitalization Rate

    The rate of return on a real estate investment property based on the income that the property is expected to generate.
  5. Gross Profit

    A company's total revenue (equivalent to total sales) minus the cost of goods sold. Gross profit is the profit a company ...
  6. Revenue

    The amount of money that a company actually receives during a specific period, including discounts and deductions for returned ...
Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!