Just Sociology

Exploring Double Standards and Economic Policies in Global Trade

International trade and commerce are crucial drivers of economic growth and prosperity in the modern era. Countries around the world compete to ensure their industries remain competitive in a global marketplace.

However, while free trade and globalization benefit many, economists continue to debate the optimal policies for balancing domestic industries with global competition. This article argues that import tariffs and free trade agreements have complex effects on domestic industries and international trade.

It explores the protectionist policies of wealthier countries such as Germany and Switzerland, and the negative effects of free trade agreements on African farmers. It also examines limitations on African countries imposing tariffs and the incentives for domestic producers to support protectionist policies.

1) Import Tariffs in Wealthier Countries:

Import tariffs are taxes levied on imported goods, designed to protect domestic industries from foreign competition. They increase the cost of imported goods, which can make domestic goods more attractive to consumers.

This effect can help to protect domestic industries from foreign competition, providing time for domestic industries to adapt to changing market conditions. One of the most important reasons for implementing import tariffs is to shield domestic industries from competition from lower-cost foreign manufacturers.

In some cases, domestic businesses may struggle to compete aggressively on cost, despite offering quality products.

Germany and Switzerland are some of the wealthiest countries that have implemented protectionist policies to protect their domestic industries.

Germany has a long history of implementing tariffs on imported goods. Steel tariffs are one example of German tariffs.

Imports of steel have been heavily regulated in Germany, which has helped German steel plants to stay closed. Switzerland has also benefited from protectionist measures.

One example of this is the country’s high agricultural tariffs, which have allowed Swiss farmers to remain competitive. China and Cambodia are examples of countries that have benefited from export tariffs on imported goods.

Chinese export tariffs are designed to protect domestic businesses from foreign competition. Cambodia has benefited from export tariffs imposed on rice.

Export tariffs have allowed Cambodia’s rice industry to export rice at higher prices than countries that do not have export tariffs. Some domestic producers support protectionist policies because they see it as a matter of national pride.

They may believe that job losses in the domestic industry could lead to economic downturns and social unrest. They may also believe that importing goods can have negative environmental effects.

2) Free Trade Agreements and African Countries:

Free trade agreements are agreements between two or more countries that reduce or eliminate trade barriers, including tariffs, quotas, and trade embargoes. African countries have been affected significantly by free trade agreements, with negative consequences for African farmers.

For example, the EU’s Everything but Arms (EBA) initiative, which grants duty-free access to EU markets for exports from least developed countries, forced market flooding by EU onions into Tanzanian markets that destroyed local onion farming in the country.

African countries often have different economic development needs from wealthier countries, such as the United States or European Union.

Because free trade agreements impose limitations on African countries imposing tariffs, African economies can become vulnerable to imports from wealthier countries. This vulnerability has negative short-term effects on domestic industries, especially in agriculture.

African farmers may be forced out of business due to free trade agreements that do not respect the competitive advantages of African agriculture.


In conclusion, it is important to recognize that both import tariffs and free trade agreements have complex impacts on domestic industries and global commerce.

Although import tariffs can help protect domestic industries from foreign competition, they can also increase the cost of imported goods for consumers. On the other hand, free trade agreements can create opportunities for global competition but can also have negative effects on domestic industries, particularly for African farmers.

Import tariffs and free trade agreements represent competing trade policies that reflect different strategies and priorities for economic development. Determining which policy is best for a particular country or situation requires careful consideration of the economic and social factors that influence trade policy.Global trade is a complex web of agreements, policies, and regulations designed to promote economic activity, reduce trade barriers, and balance the needs of domestic industries with those of international commerce.

However, some critics argue that global trade is plagued by double standards that unfairly benefit larger and wealthier nations at the expense of poorer countries. In this article, we explore two areas where double standards in global trade are particularly evident, including inconsistencies in import taxes applied by richer countries and inequalities in trade agreements with African countries.

We also examine the benefits of government subsidies for EU farmers and their impact on the global agricultural sector. 3) Double Standards in Global Trade:

Inconsistencies in Import Taxes Applied by Richer Countries

Richer nations often impose higher import tariffs on goods from developing countries to protect their domestic industries, while simultaneously lobbying the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for reduced tariffs on their own exports. For example, the United States currently imposes high tariffs on steel imports, including those from China, while at the same time arguing that China’s trade practices violate WTO rules.

Such policies can give richer countries a competitive edge, allowing their domestic industries to produce goods more cheaply, which can then be sold abroad at a lower price than imported goods.

In addition, richer countries regularly use non-tariff barriers to further protect their domestic industries.

Such barriers can include technical regulations, labeling requirements, and sanitary standards that are difficult for foreign producers to meet. While these regulations may be designed to protect consumers, they can also have the effect of making it harder for foreign producers to sell their products in wealthier countries.

Inequalities in Trade Agreements with African Countries

Trade agreements between the European Union (EU) and African countries have been criticized for promoting development aid over trade. While the EU grants duty-free access to its markets for many African products, the EU regularly imposes tariffs on products from Africa, such as coffee and sugar.

This policy further potentiates the advantage that wealthier countries have over imports from developing countries.

Some critics argue that wealthier nations impose trade restrictions on developing countries to maintain their competitive advantage, often at the expense of developing economies.

These restrictions can make it difficult for developing countries to diversify their economies and attract foreign investment, which can also harm their ability to create jobs and promote sustainable economic growth.

4) EU Subsidies for Farmers:

Benefits of Government Subsidies for EU Farmers

The EU has a long history of supporting its agricultural sector through government subsidies, tax exemptions, and other forms of financial assistance. Such subsidies can help to keep EU farming competitive and prevent rural decline due to massive farm-size, old machinery, and outdated techniques.

European farmers typically benefit from these government handouts through artificially cheap goods, which enable them to compete in global markets despite higher labor and production costs.

In addition to assisting farmers, EU agricultural subsidies also promote food security and help to encourage the protection of the environment.

For example, subsidies for organic farming have been introduced to promote sustainable agriculture, reduce soil erosion and reduce water pollution. However, government subsidies to EU farmers have come under scrutiny in recent years as some argue they distort the global agricultural sector by flooding the market with artificially cheap goods, making it harder for farmers in poorer countries to compete.

Another criticism of agricultural subsidies is that it is a barrier to the development of diversified agricultural industries in developing countries.


As our global economy becomes increasingly interconnected, it is vital that we examine the fairness of global trade practices.

Double standards in global trade, such as those presented by inconsistent import taxes and inequalities in trade agreements, can impede the economic development of developing countries and exacerbate existing social and economic disparities. Furthermore, government subsidies for farmers provide some benefits but can give an unfair advantage to certain countries in the global agricultural market.

Policymakers need to carefully consider these issues when shaping international trade policies that support sustainable and equitable global economic growth.A-Level Sociology draws attention to the role of politics, sociology, and economics in shaping global culture and society. One global economic issue that is of importance to the discipline of sociology is the topic of free trade.

Free trade discussions bring in fundamental concepts such as globalization, economic inequities, and power disparities between countries. This article will highlight the importance of free trade in A-Level Sociology, and the significance of understanding its implications in global development.

5) Importance for A-Level Sociology:

Significance of Free Trade Topic in Global Development Option:

Free trade is a core topic in the Global Development option, which touches on the disparities between developed and developing countries and highlights the intertwined relationship between economics and politics in both developed and developing countries. The Global Development option combines sociology and economics to illuminate the local and international dimensions of development.

The free trade issue aligns with the discipline of sociology, which tries to understand how wealth, status, and power influence global interactions.

Furthermore, the free trade topic helps Sociology students to understand the complex relationship between globalization and economic disparities.

The free trade system emphasizes open markets and competitiveness, which tends to benefit wealthier countries that have a clear advantage in terms of capital, infrastructure, and advanced technology. As a result, developing countries tend to struggle to keep pace in the global marketplace.

Therefore, free trade discussions facilitate a debate on the issue of how the global market system ultimately affects the distribution of resources and power globally.

The study of free trade can also help Sociology students understand the significance of global governance and how local, national, and international policies shape economic outcomes at different levels.

This provides insights into clarifying the role of institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and trading blocs such as the European Union in shaping global economic rules. Students can use this knowledge to explore governance issues in their particular interests, such as how drug patents restrict access to medicine in the third world or how trade policies create inequality.

Furthermore, the study of free trade helps in understanding the complexity within developing countries. The free trade issue situates countries into two clumps: those that take advantage of free trade and those that struggle to do so.

Developing countries are not uniform and it is beneficial to understand which countries benefit from free trade and which do not. For example, India has traditionally been a proponent of a trade liberalization economy, but the country remains unequal with millions of people in poverty.

Sociology students must question the development models proposed to them through free trade and identify which systems demonstrate a more sustainable approach to long-term equality, poverty reduction, and development. Finally, the free trade discussions equip Sociology students to become active participants in current debates relating to economic globalization.

They can use their knowledge to examine and critique issues such as global multinationals exploiting workers in developing countries and global investors gambling on the world’s food supply.


Overall, free trade is a critical issue for A-Level Sociology students who seek to understand the complexities within globalization and the implications of economic interactions between nations.

Free trade discussions provide a basis for analyzing issues such as global economic policy, development outcomes, poverty reduction, and global governance. The issue equips students with a theoretical and practical understanding of the relationship between economics and politics in shaping development outcomes globally.

The free trade system reveals how accumulation of wealth, resources, and power are distributed unequally, which reinforces the significance of Sociology as an academic discipline that delves into issues of social inequality and distribution of power. Therefore, understanding free trade is integral to any A-Level Sociology course in Global Development.

In conclusion, this article has examined several complex issues in global trade and economic policy, including import tariffs, free trade agreements, and government subsidies for agriculture. We have explored the role of double standards in global trade and the importance of understanding these issues in the discipline of A-Level Sociology.

It is vital that we continue to analyze these issues with a critical eye to promote sustainable and equitable economic growth.


Q: What are import tariffs?

A: Import tariffs are taxes levied on imported goods, designed to protect domestic industries from foreign competition. Q: What are free trade agreements?

A: Free trade agreements are agreements between two or more countries that reduce or eliminate trade barriers. Q: What are government subsidies for agriculture?

A: Government subsidies for agriculture are financial assistance provided by governments to farmers in the form of tax exemptions and direct financial aid. Q: What is the significance of A-Level Sociology in understanding global trade policies?

A: A-Level Sociology helps us to understand the social and political implications of complex economic issues such as global trade policies. Q: How can we address double standards in global trade?

A: Addressing double standards in global trade requires promoting transparency, accountability, and equitability in international economic relations.

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