What Is a Free Trade Agreement (FTA)?

FTA Definition

A free trade agreement, or FTA, is an agreement made between two or more nations to reduce the barriers of trade between them.

Under an FTA, goods and services can be imported and exported between countries with little to no prohibitions, quotas, or tariffs.

Often an FTA is a formal agreement, but a free-trade policy can also occur from a lack of trade restrictions, such as in the case of “laissez-faire”(pronounced: lay-say fair) trade, which is French for “let go.”

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Benefits and History of FTAs

In principle, free trade facilitates faster economic growth by allowing businesses to focus on making products that best utilize their resources while importing goods that are domestically scarce.

According to economist David Ricardo’s book On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation (1817), free trade increases the diversity of goods while lowering their price, and allows nations to make better use of their domestic resources and specializations.

FTAs vs Tariffs

While an FTA is usually the most beneficial, a government may place a tariff on certain products to protect domestic manufacturers.

It may also block the import of certain goods that have not been approved by a nation’s regulators, such as drugs, unvaccinated animals, or foods that don’t meet the government’s national standards.

The international agency responsible for ensuring that trade flows smoothly between countries is the World Trade Organization.

What Is FTA (Free Trade Agreement) FAQs

FTA is an acronym for Free Trade Agreement.
A free trade agreement, or FTA, is an agreement made between two or more nations to reduce the barriers of trade between them. Under an FTA, goods and services can be imported and exported between countries with little to no prohibitions, quotas, or tariffs.
In principle, free trade facilitates faster economic growth by allowing businesses to focus on making products that best utilize their resources while importing goods that are domestically scarce.
Often an FTA is a formal agreement, but a free-trade policy can also occur from a lack of trade restrictions, such as in the case of “laissez-faire” (pronounced: lay-say fair) trade, which is French for “let go.”
While an FTA is usually the most beneficial strategy, a government can also place a tariff on certain products to protect domestic manufacturers. It may also block the import of certain goods that have not been approved by a nation’s regulators, such as drugs, unvaccinated animals, or foods that don’t meet the government’s national standards.
True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

About the Author
True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True contributes to his own finance dictionary, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website, view his author profile on Amazon, his interview on CBS, or check out his speaker profile on the CFA Institute website.