The protection of steel producers from import competition has been an issue in international economic relations for as long as steel has been traded. The birthplace of the modern steel industry was Great Britain. Its leadership in steel production and technology was a natural outgrowth of its dominance in ironmaking, which dated back to the mid-eighteenth century. Despite the apparently deeply ingrained protectionist sentiments displayed as the steel age began, trade liberalization in the United States was indeed possible. The First World War and its economic aftermath played a large role in the increased use of protectionism in the 1920s. At the end of the Second World War, the steel industries of most countries outside the United States were in ruins, and trade relations began anew with a clean slate. The postwar period thus began as a time of rebuilding, not only for the steel capacity worldwide, but for the international economic environment as well.