According to Ha-Joon Chang, there are an "official history of globalization" and the "real history of globalization" that tell significantly different stories about this issue. Let's examine both.
Chang identifies the "official history of globalization" as beginning with the British adoption of "free-market and free trade policies in the 18th century." As the years passed, these policies were seen as superior, and Britain succeeded economically. Other countries followed suit, but Britain held the lead as international trade flourished in prosperity. The economy faltered after World War I, and later, Britain and the US enacted tariffs that led to economic instability and World War II. After the war, globalization and international trade made progress once again, and organizations like the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank took center stage for a true global economy.
Chang argues that this scenario actually does not represent the "real history of globalization." In his view, free trade was actually forced upon weaker countries "rather than voluntarily adopted." It was a part of "colonial rule" and exploitative treaties. More powerful countries like Britain took advantage of weaker ones through such methods. Tariffs were actually always in place, at least to a point, to protect domestic business in some areas and to keep out real free trade with other countries. Basically, powerful, wealthy nations had a vested interest in protecting themselves and developing their own economies first. Those goals always came before any benefit to anyone else.