Free trade means the exchange of goods and services across international borders, unhindered by government tariffs, quotas, or other restrictions. Since the publication of The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith in 1776, the debate over free trade has been one of the major battlegrounds in the broader controversy about economic freedom. Free trade is an essential component of globalization, which includes not only trade, but the international flow of capital and people and the resulting integration of national economies with each other.

Free trade has been a central tenet of the libertarian, or classical liberal, philosophy for centuries. The same philosophical and economic arguments for the freedom of exchange within a national economy apply equally to exchange across international borders. According to libertarian principles, workers ...

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