Anglo-Irish Trade War

Anglo-Irish Trade War

Anglo-Irish Trade War

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The Anglo-Irish Trade War (also called the "Economic War") was a retaliatory trade war between the Irish Free State and the United Kingdom (UK) lasting from 1932 until 1938. It involved the refusal of the Irish Government to continue to reimburse Britain with the "land annuities" derived from financial loans granted by Britain to Irish tenant farmers to enable them purchase lands under the Irish Land Acts during the previous half century, a provision which was part of the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty. This resulted in the imposition of unilateral trade restrictions by both countries, which caused severe damage to the Irish economy.

The "war" had two main aspects:
  • Disputes surrounding the changing constitutional status of the Irish Free State vis-a-vis Britain; and
  • Changes in Irish economic and fiscal policy following the Great Depression.


Protective policy

On taking over power and coming into office in 1932 the new Fianna Fáil government under Éamon de Valera embarked upon a protectionist policy in economic dealings, and tariffs were introduced for a wide range of imported goods mainly from Britain. This was largely necessary to compensate for the drastic fall in demand for Irish agricultural products on international markets, due to the Great Depression which had begun in 1929. Other means had also to be found to help the disastrously undermined balance of trade and the mounting national debt. A vigorous campaign...
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