U.S. trade barriers hurt U.S. citizens, as consumers, taxpayers, workers, producers, and investors. Americans would be better off if we simply undertook our own reforms – on tariffs, regulations, and other artificial impediments to commerce – without regard for what other governments do.

Although tariffs and other trade barriers have been reduced considerably since the end of the Second World War, U.S. policy continues to accommodate egregious amounts of protectionism: we have “Buy American” rules that restrict most government procurement spending to U.S. suppliers, ensuring that taxpayers get the smallest bang for their buck; heavily protected service industries, such as commercial air service and shipping, which drive up transportation costs and raises the prices of nearly everything Americans consume; apparently interminable farm subsidies; quotas and high tariffs on imported sugar; high tariffs on basic consumer products, such as clothing and footwear; energy export restrictions; the market-distorting cronyism of the Export-Import bank; antidumping duties that strangle downstream industries and tax consumers; regulatory protectionism masquerading as public health and safety precautions; protectionist rules of origin and local content requirements that limit trade’s benefits; and restrictions on foreign investment.

On this page you will find Cato’s analyses and policy prescriptions for all manners of trade and investment protectionism.