The benefits of free trade were outlined in On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, published in 1817 by economist David Ricardo. These occur when one country imposes trade restrictions and no other country responds. A country can also unilaterally relax trade restrictions, but this rarely happens. This would penalize the country with a competitive disadvantage. The United States and other developed countries do so only as a kind of foreign aid to help emerging countries strengthen strategic industries that are too small to be a threat. It helps the emerging market economy grow and creates new markets for U.S. exporters. Governments with free trade policies or agreements do not necessarily abandon control over imports and exports or eliminate all protectionist measures. In modern international trade, few free trade agreements lead to completely free trade. There are currently a number of free trade agreements in the United States. These include multi-nation agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which includes the United States, Canada and Mexico, and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), which includes most Central American nations.

There are also separate trade agreements with nations, from Australia to Peru. A trade agreement between more than two parties (usually neighbouring or in the same region) is considered multilateral. They face the main obstacles – to content negotiation and implementation. The more countries involved, the more difficult it is to achieve mutual satisfaction. Once this type of trade agreement is governed, it will become a very powerful agreement. The larger the GDP of the signatories, the greater the impact on other global trade relations. The largest multilateral trade agreement is the North American Free Trade Agreement[5] between the United States, Canada and Mexico. [6] EU Trade Policy on Sustainable Development in EU Trade Agreements, Implementation of EU Trade Negotiations, Related Documents. On the other hand, some local industries benefit. They are finding new markets for their duty-free products. These industries are growing and employing more labour.