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Protectionism refers to government actions and policies that restrict or restrain international trade, often with the intent of protecting local businesses and jobs from foreign competition. Typical methods of protectionism include import tariffs, quotas, subsidies, or tax cuts to local businesses. The aim is to prevent foreign products or services from gaining a competitive advantage over domestic products or services.


The phonetic spelling of the keyword “Protectionism” is /prəˈtekSHəˌnizəm/.

Key Takeaways

  1. Economic Protectionism: Protectionism is a policy used by governments to protect domestic industries from international competition. This is often done through tariffs, quotas, subsidies, or other restrictions on imported goods.
  2. Potential Benefits: It can be beneficial in the short term for certain sectors as it may protect jobs, promote economic independence and can lead to growth of domestic industries. High tariffs on imports can also generate significant revenue for the government.
  3. Negative Consequences: However, protectionism can have negative consequences such as increased prices for consumers, reduced economic efficiency due to lack of competition, and potential retaliation from trading partners leading to trade wars. Additionally, it could also distort free market dynamics, leading to lesser innovation and productivity in the long term.


Protectionism is a significant term in business/finance because it represents a policy approach followed by governments to shield domestic industries from international competition. By implementing protectionist measures such as tariffs, quotas, or subsidies, a country can safeguard its businesses from foreign competitors. This strategy allows domestic companies to grow, nurture innovation, and maintain employment levels. However, it’s important to note that while protectionism can offer short-term benefits to specific industries, it can also lead to reduced trade, increased consumer prices, and potential retaliation from trade partners in the long run. Therefore, understanding protectionism is crucial for policymakers and businesses to make informed trade and investment decisions.


Protectionism is an economic policy adopted by nations to support their domestic industries by reducing competition with foreign enterprises. This is achieved through various trade barriers like tariffs, quotas, and subsidies. The primary purpose of this policy is to safeguard local businesses, producers, and workers from global competition. By doing so, protectionism aims to encourage domestic industry growth, where, as a result, these industries can maintain or increase their impact on the economy, contribute to job creation and preservation, and uphold security of certain essential sectors.Moreover, protectionism is used as a tool for balancing trade deficits. In an open market, some countries might be overwhelmed with foreign goods and services comparative to their own export, causing an unfavorable trade balance. By introducing tariffs or quotas, the government can control the influx of foreign goods, promoting domestic products instead. While protecting new industries or those facing difficulties, some governments also use this policy as a negotiation tool to force other nations into changing their unfair trade practices. However, it’s important to note that while protectionism has its advantages, it may also lead to trade wars, inflation, and reduced competition, which could harm the consumer in the long run.


1. American Steel Industry: In 2018, President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum to protect the domestic industries from the cheap imports, particularly from countries like China. This is a classic example of protectionism as the measure was taken with the intention of shielding the American steel and aluminum producers from international competition.2. European Agricultural Subsidies: The European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a system of agricultural subsidies and programs which aims to support farmers and manage agricultural markets. This policy has often been criticized as protectionist because it imposes high tariffs on agricultural goods imported from non-EU countries, favoring European producers over foreign competitors.3. “Buy American Act” in the USA: The Buy American Act is a complex government regulation which requires the U.S. government to prefer U.S.-made products in its purchases. Thus, foreign goods and products often have to face regulatory restrictions, offering a level of protection to U.S. companies from foreign competition in government procurement contracts.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Protectionism in terms of business and finance?

Protectionism refers to government actions and policies that restrict or limit international trade, often with the intent of protecting local businesses and jobs from foreign competition.

What are the types of Protectionism?

Common types of Protectionism methods include tariffs, import quotas, subsidies, or other regulations.

How does Protectionism affect international trade?

Protectionism can deter international trade by making imported goods more expensive than home-produced ones. This in turn can reduce the volume of trade between countries.

Who benefits from Protectionism?

Domestic industries, especially those considered ‘infant industries’ , and workers within these industries tend to benefit from protectionist policies as they are sheltered from foreign competition.

What are the potential drawbacks of Protectionism?

Protectionism can lead to trade wars, increase consumer prices, decrease the availability of goods and services, and can potentially harm domestic industries that rely on imported materials.

How does Protectionism impact consumers?

Protectionism can lead to increased costs for consumers, as domestic businesses often raise prices due to decreased competition from abroad. Consumers may also have less access to foreign-produced goods and services.

How does a country implement Protectionism?

Governments can implement protectionist policies through a variety of means including tariffs, quotas, subsidies, and legislation.

What are tariffs and how they are related to Protectionism?

Tariffs are taxes imposed on imported goods and services. They are often used as a tool in protectionist policies, designed to make foreign products more expensive and less appealing to consumers.

Can Protectionism lead to a trade war?

Yes, if countries reciprocate with their own protectionist measures to counter the initial ones, it can escalate into a trade war.

Does Protectionism help in economic growth?

The impact of protectionism on economic growth varies. In the short-run, these policies might boost local industries by reducing foreign competition. However, in the long-run, they might deter international trade and innovation, ultimately hindering economic growth.

Related Finance Terms

  • Tariffs
  • Import Quotas
  • Non-Tariff Barriers
  • Trade Wars
  • Domestic Industry Protection

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