As far as I'm aware, in Australia, currently only countries which are predominantly made up of people not of European descent, such as China, are seen as a "threat" to Australia's manufacturing.

Have majority European descent countries ever viewed other majority European descent countries as a threat to their manufacturing?

I'm interested in both examples where the other country is seen as "inferior" (whether racially, religiously, or culturally), and where the other country is not seen as "inferior".

  • A quick search hasn't found any concrete citations yet, but check out the fear of Germany's economy, which was booming in the post-WW2 era, and left many industries in the US worried. Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 12:16
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    Your premise is incorrect. Even in Australian current affairs we see traditional Australian manufacturers such as SPC Ardmona and GM Holden in dire straits. In SPC's case, they are simply uncompetitive against the likes of canned tomatoes from Italy, and Holden is just the latest episode of the traditionally uncompetitive Australian car industry, which cannot compete against that of Japan, US and Europe (among others). Race is a red herring, don't buy into this medieval hogwash. Commented Apr 15, 2014 at 6:33
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    @congusbongus : can't we handle the questions in good faith? Nothing in the text of the question indicates any kind of trolling. So a good answer should be like "no, because ..." or "yes, here are the counter-examples", and not by accusing the QA of "medieval hogwash".
    – vsz
    Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 18:17
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    An assumption that never in human history have expressed fears of economic competition not been due to racism by Europeans seems trollish in the extreme.
    – Oldcat
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 0:13
  • @congusbongus Italian canning may be an actual threat to Australian manufacturing, but I don't think it's commonly perceived to be a threat.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 7:47

2 Answers 2


These situations were totally common throughout history. Starting from the industrial revolution in Britain which led to numerous concerns in France about their textile industry.

I can tell you many other examples.

  • The pre-revolutionary Russian Empire where German industry was seen to dominate over domestic industry.

  • The Cold War era Soviet Union where it was common to argue for domestic development rather than relying on imports. For instance it is often argued that adoption in the 1970s of the US standards for computers (those of IBM for mainframes and DEC for workstations), and consecutive copying severly hindered domestic computer industry.

  • The post-Cold-War era Eastern European countries where the imports from the Western Europe and other countries either killed domestic producers (such as automobile producers RAF, Moskvitch, ZIL, TagAZ, aircraft producer SAZ) or severly hindered the production (civil airliner production in Russia has dropped by about 90%). Because of this, Russia has imposed prohibitive taxation on import of automobiles and planes. In other countries I can mentiontion the Bulgarian conserved food industry which was nearly totally killed after entrance into the EU as well as the machinery and electronics in the Baltic states.

  • It is often alleged that the western companies sometimes buy local producers in the Eastern Europe with the only aim to close them down (unfriendly acquisition) so to remove competitors.

  • Serious danger to the Ukrauinian producers is cited by the opponents of Ukraine entering the association agreement with the EU, with some commenters predict their food and machinery industries totally devastated.


You may also wish to check tariffs on Italian leather shoes - I don't have anything immediately to hand, but the US has traditionally levied tariffs on Italian shoes to protect domestic industry. I believe that Steel was protected in the 1970's against German imports

Ethnicity is a distraction here; protectionism is an attempt to promote domestic industry and workers at the expense of foreign workers. It doesn't matter what color those workers are, the goal is to make sure that domestic workers are rich and foreign workers are impoverished.

If you want to research the question, I'd focus your attention on core domestic industries. (Defined as either (a) Industries with disproportionately large lobbying groups, or (b) designated strategic industries. There will be an overlap). The USA for example wants to maintain a strategic advantage in aerospace, and fears the French and British (particularly when allied).

You limited the question to "manufacturing" - there are a host of counter-market regulations in the farm and service sector. Almost every country has a ridiculous policy about farm products - from Japanese Rice, to US Sugar and Maize to French... well everything (IIRC, Brazil may be an exception). And the current US-European trade treaty will fail because France has imposed protectionist requirements on the entertainment sector.

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