This chapter argues for economic free trade through the lens of trade theory. While free trade may not be 'optimal,' it is "the most pragmatic policy option a country can follow.”
During the 19th and 20th centuries, policy makers asked whether free trade was in everyone’s best interest. The modern case for free trade “argues that each exception supporting government intervention in the form of a trade policy brings with it additional implementation problems that are likely to make the policy impractical.”
Read section 11.4, “The Case for Selected Protection” to learn why free trade is not always the best policy choice when the objective is to maximize national welfare. The authors argue that free trade is pragmatically, rather than technically, optimal because it is attainable and most likely to produce the highest level of economic efficiency.