Countries are told that if they open their markets and reduce their tariffs, they’ll see the money roll in. But is this always true?
Click on the countries below to hear how it’s working out for them.

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When the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) agreement was signed in 1994, politicians were promising that the deal would create jobs. In actual fact, it caused one million job losses in the USA alone and many more in Canada and Mexico.
The free trade and investment deals that Argentina signed up to have allowed foreign corporations to stop it fighting poverty. Dozens of energy and water companies are suing Argentina for billions of pounds freezing energy and water utility prices.
Veolia is currently taking Egypt to international arbitration because it dared to introduce a minimum wage. It can do this because Egypt is signed up to a bilateral investment treaty that gives foreign corporations the right to interfere in domestic policy in this way.
Georgia was the Soviet republic that most enthusiastically embraced free trade. It signed numerous free trade agreements and has very low tariffs. The result is that the country's export economy has remained weak – scrap metal and re-exported cars are among the country's biggest exports and the country's industry remains destroyed. From being one of the richest republics in the Soviet Union, Georgia's GDP is still lower than it was in 1989 and poverty rates are comparable with many countries in Africa.
Lost $10 billion because of trade liberalisation between 1986-2001. That means free trade cost every Ghanaian $510 over this period, when the country's GDP per capita was just $330. Employment in the country’s manufacturing sector fell from 78,700 in 1987 to 28,000 in 1993 as a result of free trade.
Refused free trade and pursued a protectionist trade policy in the 1950s. The Americans told Japan that it would never be able to complete against the American car industry. Today, Japan is an economic powerhouse and one of the world's biggest car manufacturers.
During the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, Malaysia resisted international pressure to maintain open markets, imposing capital controls and protecting its currency. These policies helped the country recover faster than its neighbours.
Australia introduced mandatory plain cigarette packaging in 2012. The tobacco multinational Philip Morris used a bilateral trade deal between Australia and Hong Kong to sue the Australian government for trying to protect the health of its own citizens.
In Latin America, some countries are experimenting with an alternative trading system known as the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America - or ALBA in Spanish. This trade system is based on the idea of raising, not lowering, standards like wages and environmental protection. And it tries to raise standards of living in poorer areas by encouraging trade and investment. Many countries in ALBA, such as Ecuador, have successfully reduced inequality while maintaining healthy growth.
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