Advantages & disadvantages of economic sanctions

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Economic sanctions are one of the political tools used in international relations. The reasons for use vary, as do the benefits and drawbacks. Obvious disadvantages exist for the country that is subjected to sanctions --- harm to their economy is the most obvious.

Advantages also exist for the country that imposes these sanctions with success, if success is measured by whether they've achieved their goal. Aside from these factors, there are other advantages and disadvantages to consider.

Definition of Economic Sanctions

Economic sanctions are penalties placed on one country by either another country or a group of countries. They usually include tariffs, trade barriers, import duties, and import or export quotas. Therefore a country subject to an economic sanction may have tariffs or taxes levied against goods they export to a number of countries, be subjected to a minimum import or export quota.

Reasons for Economic Sanctions

Some countries institute sanctions to protect its industry from the threat lower-cost imported goods bring. In retaliation, the countries affected impose tariffs of their own, meant to wound the country which imposed the protective tariffs. This tit-for-tat exchange of sanctions is referred to as trade wars, a practice which economists believe is non-productive. However, political scientists see the threat of trade war as positive bargaining tool. Sanctions are imposed to coerce a country into taking a particular policy stand, ceasing an undesirable behaviour or pursuing a course more desirable to the country that places a sanction.

Examples of Economic Sanctions

At the close of the first Gulf War the United Nations imposed broad economic sanctions against Iraq in an effort to coerce the Iraqi government cooperate with UN weapons inspectors' monitoring of Iraq's weapons and weapons programs. The success of the sanctions, and thus its advantages were questionable, as they remained in place until the Iraq invasion began in 2003. According to Kimberly Ann Elliott from the Peterson Institute for International Economics, "limited and tenuous results" of sanctions are not uncommon. Another example of this are the U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba, imposed in 1960 to encourage the country to move towards democracy. The country is still ruled by a Communist regime.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Economic Sanctions

Generally speaking, economic sanctions are thought to be costly political and economic tools, which hardly ever work. Since 1970, unilateral US sanctions have achieved foreign policy goals only 13 per cent of the time. Sanctions cost the U.S. £9 to £12 billion annually in potential exports. In cases where sanction goals have been accomplished, success has been contingent on the setting of modest goals, friendly relations between the target country and that imposing the sanctions before the time of imposition, and the swiftness in execution of sanctions.