There are few issues as politically explosive as the liberalisation of trade, as recent controversies in the United States, Canada and Mexico have shown. While loosening trade restrictions may make sense for a nation's economy as a whole, it typically alienates powerful vested interests. Those interests can exact severe political costs for the government that enacts change. So why accept the risk? In this book, Michael Lusztig constructs a model to determine why and under what conditions governments take the free trade gamble. Working with the rational choice tradition, Lusztig's model sees government actors as political entrepreneurs, willing to risk the political costs of free trade for more lucrative objectives: creating or preserving alignments within the party's electoral support base. In contrast to other theories, this model does not assume that free trade is the first-order preference of government. Rather, it is a means to an end, a strategy, in a complex set of political games. Lusztig uses his model to explain shifts to free trade in four cases: Britain's repeal of the Corn Laws; the United States' enactment of the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act (1934); Canada's decision to initiate continental free trade with the US in 1985; and Mexico's decision to pursue the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1990.