January 23, 1860: The Cobden-Chevalier Treaty was signed on this day. Before this date, European countries had embraced unilateral tariffs that significantly impacted inter-border trade, especially between Britain and France. Tariffs unilaterally imposed by Britain on French products reduced market penetration experienced in the previous centuries. These tariffs devastated the French wine industry, overturning the flourishing wine trade between the two countries. However, toward the mid-19th century, changes in commerce and calls for free trade led to the treaty’s signing. The treaty allowed moderation of tariffs throughout Europe, ushering in a new era of free trade. As a result, the French wine exports to Britain steadily increased. The treaty led to improved living standards in France, and once again wine industry was burgeoning under Napoleon III. For more on the treaty, see this entry from Encyclopedia.com.
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