Beginning in 1686, and continuing for the next 75 years, France banned the import of Indian cotton textiles and their imitations produced elsewhere. The reason for the ban was that the textiles had become popular among French consumers to the detriment of French wool and linen manufacturers. The ban was widely defied by smugglers and consumers, causing the French government to resort to draconian enforcement measures. In turn, the measures prompted a spirited public debate about free trade, one of Europe’s first. This case study provides an opportunity for readers to reflect on the effects of creative destruction and measures to restrict economic competition.
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