International Business

British Protectionism and the International Economy: by Tim Rooth

By Tim Rooth

After greater than three-quarters of a century of unfastened alternate, Britain re-adopted protectionist regulations early within the melancholy of the Thirties. Tim Rooth's finished research examines the forces at the back of the abandonment of unfastened alternate and how that Britain then used defense to cut price for alternate merits within the markets of her leader providers of nutrients and uncooked fabrics. The retreat from multilateral exchange guidelines, the expansion of safeguard and the concomitant improvement of neighborhood monetary groupings has seen parallels with present advancements on the planet economic climate.

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7 However, following the allied victory in November 1918 the protectionist/imperialist cause lost momentum. The suddenness and completeness of Germany's collapse in 1918 dissolved the fears of those who had envisaged bitter commercial rivalry after the war,8 and the boom of 1919-20, a last spasm of the pre-war industrial order, encouraged the scrapping of wartime controls as part of a search for 'normalcy'. The protectionists had to be content with a modest legacy from the war. One part of this was the McKenna duties, involving a 33-3 per cent ad valorem tariff on gramophones, clocks, watches, cinematograph film and certain types of motor vehicle, which had been introduced in 1915 to save foreign exchange and shipping space; they survived the peace and in the 1919 Finance Act had an imperial preference element added to them.

This is noticeable for capital goods exports as a whole, but especially for electrical engineering products, and, even more so, for motor vehicles. Nonetheless, it appears that the newer industries leaned more heavily on the crutch of imperial preferences and other institutional distortions in the Empire to offset their competitive weaknesses in the rest of the world; the newer products were less capable of withstanding open competition than the nineteenth-century staples. Britain's greater reliance on the Empire was thus in part a result of failing competitiveness, a consequence of an inability to compete effectively in non-Empire markets.

J. N. ), The Money Supply and the Exchange Rate (Oxford, 1981). 26 British protectionism and the international economy British prices had become badly out of line with American in the second half of 1919,52 and subsequently, despite the severe deflation of the early 1920s, this gap was never closed. The gamble that American prices would rise, so sparing Britain the pain of adjustment that the 1925 parity otherwise implied, failed. After 1926 employers were nervous of pressing for wage reductions and the authorities nervous of forcing deflation.

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