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International Trade

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Even before the notion of a state existed, or any records were written, people from different regions have engaged in international trade (Pomeranz, Topik, 1999). The improvement in transport methods, particularly the high seas supremacy of the British naval power in the 17th and 18th centuries helped foster international trade between far-off places. In its simplest form, international trade can be said to be the exchange of goods and services across international borders and its significance has increased in recent years culminating in concerted efforts to come up with trade rules. Economists have always encouraged the growth of international trade as they see the same as a continuation of how the simplest form of trade grows from a household economy to local economy to national economy and ultimately to international trade (Reimpr 1967).


There are several international trade theories but the most important one is the theory of comparative advantage ( [online]). This international trade theory expounds that countries should only engage in producing what they are best at. This theory is better known as the Ricardian model after a famous economist, Ricardo.  According to this theory, countries will benefit more if they specialise in producing only those goods they have comparative advantage over their international trade partners, instead of producing everything. Whatever the country cannot produce efficiently can be supplied by the country with comparative advantage in that product. Through international trade, the welfare in both countries is improved as each get the best product at a relatively low price.


International trade, however, is not solely about exchange of goods and services. International trade can serve as a medium of the exchange of ideas, culture, and values ideal and so on. Almost all countries factor some foreign policy considerations in their trade policies. For instance, Country X might decide it will not engage in international trade with country Y because the latter is a gross violator of human rights, something completely unrelated with the comparative advantage theory. There is growing debate in the United States on whether the country should review its international trade policies with the developing countries to prevent incidences like September 11th (Finney, 2002). The proponents argue that poverty breeds resentment, and with favourable trade terms with developing countries, international trade might help the biggest economy in the world to regain ‘soft power’ because if it doesn’t, it might be supplanted by a more unsavoury regime (read China).


International trade has its own risks. The risks are mainly economic and political risks. Among economic risks is that the international seller is unsure about the solvency of the buyer. There is also exchange rate risk. Countries also risk losing economic sovereignty if they become too dependant on one dominant international trade partner. Mercantilist’s practices have tried to deal with these risks in the various ways such the usage of letters of credit, bill of lading and other documents.


The political risks of international trade, on the other hand include the risk of expropriation where the government may take up foreign held assets after a shift in policy. Such practice has been recently witnessed in South America where a number of populist presidents have recently been elected to office, the most notable one being Hugo Chavez who has been promoting his ‘21st century socialism’ slogan ideology. There is also the risk that cancellation of import/export licence on either side. There are also war risks, but despite all these risks, international trade and globalisation are looking more and more inevitable.




1. POMERANZ, K, TOPIC, S (1999). The World That Trade Created, M.E. Sharpe,


2. URL Last accessed 24 October 2007.


3. REIMPR de (1967) International Trade. Routledge Publishers, Oxford.


4. Finney, MI (2002) In the Face of Uncertainty. Amacom, Boston.

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S/E/131. What impact has the conclusion of the WTO Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC) had upon the production and trade of textiles and clothing within the Asia-Pacific region. Focus on India and China

S/E/128. World Trade Organisation (WTO)

S/E/127. PowerPoint Presentation. How fair is Fairtrade?

E/E/71. Analyse factors that account for the proliferation of regional and bilateral trading agreements in recent decades and discuss whether or not such a trend is desirable from a global economic point of view

C/E/166. Developing countries are correct in viewing the WTO as an organization dedicated to furthering the interests of Western nations. The intended aim of free trade as a vehicle for alleviating poverty in developing countries will remain just a noble sentiment as long as this bias towards developed nations is maintained. Discuss

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S/E/106. Trade restrictions: Compare and contrast the effects of import quota and export subsidy as tools of trade restriction, with special reference to the US sugar policy and the European Common Agricultural Policy

S/E/105. Income inequality between skilled and unskilled workers in the advanced countries has widened sharply in the recent decades. Many people claim that increasing volume of trade with developing countries is responsible for this phenomenon. Critically evaluate this claim, drawing upon your knowledge of the theory of international trade.

C/E/155. Trade Analysis and Policy: analysis and critique of Bleaney and Wakelin model

C/E/151. Trade Analysis and Policy

S/E/88. Critically evaluate, from both the theoretical and empirical viewpoints, the Prebish-Singer terms of trade hypothesis

E/E/58. With reference to the empirical evidence, critically examine the usefulness of the Heckscher-Ohlin theory for predicting patterns of world trade and specialisation.

E/E/57. With reference to the empirical evidence, critically examine the usefulness of the Heckscher-Ohlin theory for predicting patterns of world trade

E/E/53. The World Trade Organization (WTO) now plays a greatly increased role in promoting world trade. What impact does the WTO have on the lowering of trade barriers that is taking place all over the world?

E/E/50. What factors affect the strategic choices of large businesses operating in the global economy? Answer with reference to economic globalisation and the trading environment, and refer to the impact of at least three international institutions.

E/E/44. Discuss the theoretical arguments for and against free trade. The EU has recently set limits on imports of clothing from China. Identify the main winners and losers from this action and, in the light of your discussion in (a), consider whether the EU's policy is justified

S/E/82. Assess MITI's contribution to Japanese post-war economic growth, and discuss why its role today is no longer as important as it once was.

S/E/73. Some see the World Trade Organisation's (WTOs) dispute settlement process as designed by powerful nations to suit only their foreign trade needs. Do you agree or disagree? Explain fully.

P/E/528. Appellate body of WTO: ambiguities of GATT interpretations

P/E/527. Free trade theories: critical review

P/E/508. WTO dispute settlement system

E/E/26. Textile trade between China and USA

S/E/68. Examine the role played by the GATT and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in regulating international trade. Give examples of trade issues faced by the WTO in recent times to show challenges facing the organization.

P/E/485. Issues of global free trade

P/E/481. Regional trading arrangements and multilateral liberalization

P/E/480. Economic approaches to free trade

P/E/479. Obstacles to trade: non-tariff barriers

P/E/450. Types of International Trade contracts

P/E/440. WTO conference on cotton trade

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P/E/301. Criticism of free trade and theory of comparative advantage

P/E/280.Trading with Thailand: case study of Blades Inc.

P/E/277. Comparative advantage in international trade: theory and practice

P/E/261. Terms of trade in developing countries

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P/E/231. Modelling trade flows

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C/E/66. The development of WTO 2001 Doha agreement

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P/E/180. Strategic trade policies in international trade: pros and cons

P/E/177. Customs units: static and dynamic theories

P/E/275. North American Free Trade Agreement

P/E/255. Why are developing countries joining WTO?

C/E/71. Multi-Fibre Agreement removal: who will benefit the most?

C/E/60. Comparative advantage of trade: economic insights of trade theories

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C/E/52. Heckscher-Ohlin Model of International Trade and Community Indifference Curves

C/E/51. Community Indifference Curves and International Trade

C/E/49. The role of the WTO in promoting free trade of goods or services: Malaysia case study

E/B/12. Fair Trade, A Case Study of the Coffee Sector in Mexico

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C/E/41. International Trade

P/E/132. World Trade Organisation and Trade Disputes

P/E/131. Free Trade Theory

P/E/129. International Trade of Cotton

P/E/120. Trade Integration for Latin America Countries

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P/E/118. WTO: An Extension of US?

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P/E/34. International Trade

P/E/43. European Union and International Trade

P/E/66. Is Free Trade beneficial for developing countries?

P/E/47 International trade and its role in economic development

C/E/25. Discuss the views propounded by the Structuralist theory on international trade and critically examine the reservations expressed about the Structuralist theory. Then discuss the reasons that made Import Substitution Industrialization fail.

C/E/30. Are regional free trade agreements a step in the direction of global free trade?


P/E/19. Explain in What Ways, if any, International Trade Can Be Both Cause and Cure for Food Shortages in a World of Plenty.

S/E/11. The Heckscher-Ohlin model of international trade, theory and predictions.

S/E/19. Use the Ricardian model of comparative advantage and the specific factors model to discuss the effects of international trade on the distribution of income within a country

P/E/51. International Trade in the Third World Economies: Comparative Advantage Theory

P/E/52. Import Quota and Voluntary Export Restraint

S/E/21. What are the Differences between Trade Theories based on Comparative Advantage, Specific Factors and Factor Proportions? Is There a Method of Reconciling the Content of These Three Theories? What Predictions can be derived from substituting Land and Skills for Capital and Labour in the Hecksher-Ohlin Model? Do These Predictions Survive Empirical Testing?

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