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Economics explained


International trade

Other methods of protectionism

Other methods of protectionism

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Exchange control

These include limits on how much foreign exchange can be made available to importers (financial quotas), or to citizens travelling abroad, or for investment. Alternatively, they may take the form of charges for the purchase of foreign currencies.

Export subsidies

Subsidies may be given to both exporters and to those domestic firms that compete with imports. In both cases, domestic firms will, in effect, experience a fall in costs. This will encourage them to increase their output and lower their price. This may enable them to capture more of the markets at home and abroad.


These are total government bans on certain imports (e.g. drugs) or exports to certain countries (e.g. to enemies during war).

Voluntary export restraints

Voluntary export restraints are sometimes also called voluntary export restrictions. Th ey are an agreement by an exporting country to restrict the amount of a product that it sells to the importing country. The exporting country may be pressured into signing such an agreement or it may agree in return for the importing country also agreeing to limit the exports it sells of another product.

Economic and administrative burdens (‘red tape’)

A government may seek to discourage imports by requiring importers to fill out time-consuming forms. It may also set artificially high product standards to restrict foreign competition.

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