Abstract: Theoretically, the principles of international economics prescribe universal free trade, in keeping with the idea of comparative advantage and the benefit it brings to all parties involved in trade. However, this status of absolute free trade has never been achieved, and nor does it seem likely, at least in the near future. Multiple concerns, from the protection of domestic industries to fear of over-dependence on foreign goods, makes lawmakers in nearly every nation hesitant to eliminate barriers to trade. Another major deterrent is the phenomenon that very few are willing to take the first step towards abolishing trade barriers, in the fear that non-reciprocation from their trade partners could harm their domestic economy. This article explores some of the reasons that tend to deter countries from adopting unilateral free trade, and the reasons why adopting this policy would benefit a nation irrespective of the subsequent actions of its trade partners.
Keywords: Unilateral Free Trade, Free Trade, International Economics, Trade Barriers, Trade Policy