What is international trade policy? What is the government's role in international trade policies? 

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International trade policy is a policy related to trading across national boundaries. A government establishes an international trade policy that encompasses actions they will take to protect the best interests of their citizens and companies.

Some of the major actions governments take are free trade policies or tariffs. Free trade policies encourage trade between certain countries. A good example of this is NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, which allowed free trade throughout the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Tariffs are sometimes imposed on other countries as possible punishment for negative actions or to prevent the industry in those countries from damaging similar domestic industries; a tariff ensures the nation gets money from that trade and also discourages as much trade in those certain areas.

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International trade policy describes collectively the international laws and multilateral trade agreements that govern the sale of goods between different countries.

Some international trade policy is made by transnational institutions such as the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, which are not directly controlled by any particular national government. Instead, member governments elect representatives to these transnational bodies in much the same way that citizens elect representatives to legislatures. Only very basic international trade policies are made this way.

Most substantive international trade policy is actually in the form of multilateral trade agreements, which are directly negotiated between the governments of two or more countries. NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership are examples of such trade agreements. There are dozens of such agreements, negotiated between various groups of countries. These agreements primarily involve negotiating reductions in tariffs and protections for intellectual property, but can also involve many other issues, such as labor standards and environmental regulations. These agreements are often negotiated in secret directly between executives of member governments and ratified with little oversight by their respective legislatures or citizens. An advantage of this method is that agreements can be resolved relatively quickly and with less partisanship, but a major disadvantage is that this lack of oversight can make the process undemocratic and give undue advantages to particular interest groups, especially multinational corporations.

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