(Due to protectionist measures)Domestic sellers don't have an incentive to enhance efficiency and lower their prices, and under such conditions, consumers eventually pay more for products and services they could receive from foreign competitors.

Which one does it mean?

a) Consumers are now paying more for domestically-made products. But they could've bought them more cheaply from foreign companies if there were no protectionist measures.


b) Consumers are now buying the more expensive, foreign-made products.

Any insights would be appreciated.

  • There is no mention of preferring foreign products. Also, the protected products are not necessarily the same, only similar. Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 13:50
  • @YosefBaskin Yeah, I made a mistake here. Let me re-phrase it: Consumers are now buying foreign products, which cost more.
    – 1 Tom
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 13:53
  • It may contain "subjunctive mood"? It's not submerged in the sentence, like a shark waiting for the unwary writer. I must say this is an unusual grammatical metaphor. Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 14:30

1 Answer 1


... consumers eventually pay more for products and services that they [otherwise] would be able to receive obtain from foreign competitors [at a lower price] [if they made the effort to find foreign sellers].

The could is part of a conditional construction.

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