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Trade restrictions hurt consumers

Tariffs, protectionism and isolationism are bad for free trade ("Global trade at risk if US turns insular: PM"; Nov 20).

These destroy the ability of the international market system to allocate resources efficiently.

When tariffs are imposed, prices of imports are raised. This lowers domestic demand for imported goods, reducing the income of the exporting countries.

Tariffs are mostly paid by consumers from the increase in the prices of goods and services.

Countries without natural resources and unable to produce their own goods and services will have to depend entirely on imports.

The average citizen will then have a hard time dealing with higher prices for his necessities.

Subsidising an uncompetitive industry in the form of tariffs is an inefficient and counterproductive measure, and will fail when those who are barely employed cannot afford their own expensive products.

The key to a competitive market is free trade with equal exchange, as growth is then based on sales.

The evolution of new ideas is how countries stay on top of the market. Governments should, therefore, find ways to make their countries attractive places to do business by lowering minimum wages and taxes, and by removing bureaucracy that raises the barrier to entry.

This way, companies are forced to compete and make better products at lower prices to maintain a competitive edge. This makes for a better world economy.

In fact, by increasing tariffs, governments hurt the economy by killing off jobs and by pushing factories out. Trade restrictions typically drive up prices for domestic consumers.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 27, 2016, with the headline 'Trade restrictions hurt consumers'. Print Edition | Subscribe