a1 The author is Assistant Professor of Economics, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130.
This examination of official commercial statistics suggests that the conventional wisdom regarding early free-trade efforts of Britain and France is wrong. French average tariff levels were, surprisingly, consistently below those of Britain throughout most of the nineteenth century, even after the abolition of the Corn Laws and before passage of the 1860 Treaty of Commerce. Previous scholarship has focused on French commercial policies covering a narrow range of items and has largely ignored the overall trade policies of both nations. This study moves us further away from stories of development and trade confined to a few “leading”sectors.