Faculty of law blogs / UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD

What is 'free trade'?


Time to read

2 Minutes

Stephen Weatherill investigates the meaning of 'free trade' - explaining how 'freedom from regulation' is not the same as a 'freedom to trade'. He argues that:

Markets are neither free-standing nor inevitably self-correcting. Sometimes they require protection. So markets are and long have been built on the correcting influence of public regulation. Of course one might argue for less or for more public regulation of the market, but to speak of ‘free trade’ in a market as if it operates with no public regulation is deeply misleading and lacks historical context.

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