This study examines the role of tariffs during the East Asian financial crisis. The paper finds despite its rather limited reflection in the previous debate, there is a role of tariffs when it comes to fighting the negative impact of a financial downturn. Each of the affected countries made an explicit and conscious decision to not raise tariff barriers in response to the crisis. Individual strategies applied by the Affected-5 to offset the crisis varied from country to country: significant tariff reductions in the framework of accelerated trade liberalization programmes can be found as well as tendencies to decelerate or even pause liberalization. Thailand was the exceptional case, where tariffs were increased upwards. The principal motivation for tariff increases was revenue generation, as opposed to an explicit desire to protect industries from import competition. The paper highlights the complementary role played by the strategic use of trade policy to other policies such as financial and corporate sector reforms.