Free trade is a policy followed by some international markets in which countries' governments do not restrict imports from, or exports to, other countries. Free trade is exemplified by the European Economic Area and the North American Free Trade Agreement, which have established open markets. Most nations are today members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) multilateral trade agreements. However, most governments still impose some protectionist policies that are intended to support local employment, such as applying tariffs to imports or subsidies to exports. Governments may also restrict free trade to limit exports of natural resources. Other barriers that may hinder trade include import quotas, taxes, and non-tariff barriers, such as regulatory legislation.
Features of free trade
Free trade policies generally promote the following features:
Trade of goods without taxes (including tariffs) or other trade barriers (e.g., quotas on imports or subsidies for producers)
Trade in services without taxes or other trade barriers