My (admittedly very limited) understanding is that free trade is seen by most academics and legislatures in the West as an ideal to strive for.
The theory is that if a man in China can manufacture a ceramic cup cheaper than a man in Stoke-on-Trent then the UK government should not protect the Stoke man from the competition. In any way (AFAICT).
The reasoning being that the UK buyers of ceramic cups will benefit from the lower cost of the good from China and presumably that the market remains more efficient.
The societal costs of this approach can be huge. For example, unemployment, lower wages and all the pathologies that are concomitant.
So UK citizens get cheaper ceramic goods on the one hand, but in a socialist system they have to pay for this privilege with the other via taxation to support entitlements and governmental support to mitigate the aforementioned societal effects.
Furthermore the cost of production is often only loosely related to the selling price. So for example hypothetically it is possible that, say, a large UK company, say Debenhams will source ceramic cups from China, but retain the price differential as profit for distribution amongst board members. Thereby making this a redistributively regressive policy.
Why have Western governments pursued so aggressively this free market model between countries with wildly different economies and laws (cf environmental) without appearing to take into account the "price" that has to be paid for this "market efficiency"?