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Comparatii intre evolutia PIB in Romānia si alta tara din Europa de E
Tinte privind cresterea economica in anii 2002-2004
6 pasi ai vanzarii
Afaceri imobiliare. Scoaterea terenurilor din circuitul agricol (I)
Ideea afacerii
Agentie imobiliara
Piata de capital

Faculty of Business Administration

Academy of Economic Studies



Table of Contents

1.      Introduction .......................3

3.         Trade basics........................3

2.         The International Economy..................6

3.         What is International Economics..............  9

4.         Some Trade Terminology.................10

5.         Valuable Lessons of International ...............11

6.         International Agreements.................11

7.         International Trade center and Romania............13

8.         Romania Statistics......................15

9.       Governing Global Trade...................16

10.       Trade in low income countries................19

11.       Bibliografy........................20


Take a minute and look around. You might be surprised to discover how many of the everyday items in your life are made overseas. Your shirt might be made in China. Perhaps your stereo was assembled in Japan. The watch you're wearing could be from Switzerland. And yes, the shoes that you are sporting might have been assembled in the United States.

The importing and exporting of goods is big business in today's global economy. When goods are produced in one country and sold in another, international trade occurs. It is so common to find items produced worldwide that people rarely even think about it. Not too long ago, countries consumed goods predominately produced within their borders. As transportation has become increasingly less expensive and telecommunications have improved, international trade has flourished.

In general, international trade allows countries to focus on the industries in which they can be most productive and efficient. In this way, trade often raises the standard of living of both producers and consumers. International trade also has a dark side.

This project will address many of the questions about international trade that are probably looming in your mind. Why should countries trade? How does trade work? What is the effect of international trade? How do exchange rates affect trade? Can the government interfere in free trade? What is the trade deficit?

The benefits and pitfalls of trade affect the economy at its core. Everything from output to standard of living to interest rates remains under the partial control of international trade. By understanding international trade, we will uncover one of the most important real life applications of macroeconomics.

Trade Basics

Why Trade?

Why should countries trade? Simply put, if a country can produce a good for less than another country, then the opportunity for advantageous trade exists. Of course, the opportunity for advantageous trade also exists when a country can produce a good that another country is unable to produce. In each of these cases, both the consuming country and the producing country will be better off with trade than without it.

Advantages in Trade

A country may have two advantages over another country (or countries) regarding trade. Absolute advantage occurs when a producer can use the smallest amount of inputs to produce a given amount of output compared to other producers. Absolute advantage may apply to many countries. Comparative advantage happens when a producer has a lower opportunity cost of production than another producer. Comparative advantage may also apply to many countries, but in this esay it will be restricted to cases of two countries and two goods.

The producer with the lower opportunity cost of production is said to have the comparative advantage. Notice that in a case with two producers and two products, each producer must have a comparative advantage in one, and not both, products. Simply represent the opportunity cost of one product in terms of the other product for both producers, and then compare these numbers. Whichever producer has the lower opportunity cost has the comparative advantage and should produce that product.

Absolute advantage and comparative advantage are theoretically straightforward. When a producer has an absolute advantage, he can produce a given output by using fewer inputs than any competing producer. When a producer has a competitive advantage, he can produce one product with a smaller amount of inputs than the competition. He therefore must produce another product with a greater amount of inputs than the competitor, hence the designation of comparative advantage. When either an absolute advantage or a comparative advantage exists, benefits from trade are guaranteed.

The Means of Trade

Flows of Capital and Goods

 We will use the identity Y = C + I + G + NX to describe the output of an economy. In this equation, Y is the nominal output, C is money spent on consumption, I is money spent on investment, G is money spent by the government, and NX is net exports or exports less imports. The sum of these costs is the total amount of both income and output in a country.

To understand how capital and goods flow in and out of countries, we should keep the Y = C + I + G + NX identity in mind. NX is of particular interest. NX is defined as the total amount of ex 545d31f ports less the total amount of imports. NX is positive if a country exports more than it imports, negative if a country imports more than it exports, and zero if exports and imports are equal.

Let's work through each of these examples in turn. First we'll examine the simplest case, in which exports and imports are equal. In this example, there are two countries, Country A and Country B. If Country A exports 1 million dollars worth of coconuts to Country B and imports 1 million dollars worth of bananas from Country B, then the NX for both countries is equal to zero since exports equal imports. In this case, goods are traded for goods and at the end of the term, the trade balance is equal.

When countries import less than they export or import more than they export, the situation becomes significantly more complicated. Now let's examine the case when a country imports more than it exports. If Country A exports 0.5 million dollars worth of coconuts to Country B and imports 1 million dollars worth of bananas from Country B, then Country A has a negative trade balance, called a trade deficit. In this case, Country A owes Country B money for the imported bananas beyond the 0.5 million dollars worth of exported coconuts. If this is a short-term debt, nothing of consequence would occur since Country A has the ability to export more coconuts quickly to make up for the difference.

If the debt is long term, however, Country A must somehow repay Country B for the imported bananas. The easiest way to think of this exchange is to imagine Country A giving Country B interest in the future coconuts produced by Country A. To repay the debt that Country A owes to Country B, Country B becomes invested in Country A. Any amount of exports that exceeds the total amount of imports results in foreign investment. The opposite occurs when exports exceed imports as the exporting country becomes a foreign investor in the importing country.

This leads us to another important international trade identity: NX = NFI where NX is net exports or exports less imports and NFI is net foreign investment. Simply put, the difference between what a country exports and imports is equal to the amount of foreign investment. The trade balance can remain fairly even if a country imports more than it exports--it must make up the difference through foreign investment.

If net exports remain equal to net foreign investment, a few tendencies arise:

*                countries with few imports and many exports will tend to have significant foreign investment

*                countries with few exports and many imports will also tend to have significant foreign investment

*                countries with exports equal to imports will tend to have little investment in foreign countries and little foreign investment Understanding the identity NX = NFI and the means by which capital and goods flow between countries helps to clarify the workings of international trade.

Trade and the Country

Barriers to Trade

It may seem odd, but governments often step in to restrict trade. Why might a government want to restrict trade? If domestic industries cannot compete against foreign industries, the government will restrict trade to help the domestic industries develop. Governments may also restrict trade to foster business at home rather than encouraging business to move out of the country. These protectionist policies encourage prices to stay high and help domestic industries to develop.

Trade Interferences

Governments three primary means to restrict trade: quota systems; tariffs; and subsidies.

A quota system imposes restrictions on the specific number of goods imported into a country. Quota systems allow governments to control the quantity of imports to help protect domestic industries.

Tariffs are fees paid on imported goods. Tariffs increase the price that consumers pay for the good, thus reducing the quantity of the good demanded and making the price more in line with the price charged by domestic producers. Tariff profits may go to the government or to developing industries.

Subsidies are grants given to domestic industries to help them develop and compete with foreign producers. Through subsidies, domestic producers can charge less for their goods without losing money due to outside grants.

Through judicious use of quotas, tariffs, and subsidies, governments are able to improve the domestic economy. This may increase the price that domestic consumers pay for goods, though this small annoyance is usually outweighed by significantly bolstered overall economic levels and long-term economic growth.

Trade Deficit

In the section on net exports we learned that net exports equal exports minus imports. The difference between exports and imports is referred to as the trade deficit or the trade surplus. When exports exceed imports, a trade surplus exists. When imports exceed exports, a trade deficit exists.

There often talk about the effects of the trade deficit on the economy. What is the actual effect of the trade deficit though? Remember that when there is a trade deficit, net foreign investment fills the gap between exports and imports, as NX = NFI. Thus, if a large trade deficit exists, foreign investment must be high. This is slightly problematic as domestic companies often enjoy domestic ownership--a large trade deficit threatens this condition. A trade deficit is often matched with a large governmental budget deficit. Though the specific effects of a trade deficit are nebulous, in general a large trade deficit is thought to stunt long-term economic growth slightly.

How can the trade deficit be resolved? First, exports can be increased to make annual net exports positive. When employed, this method will cause a trade deficit decrease over time. Second, funds can be used to pay off foreign investors, reducing balance due from trade and causing a lower trade deficit.

The International Economy

International trade is a central element of ongoing globalization processes, which arise from technical change and market integration. In recent decades trade in merchandise has grown rapidly relative to growth in real output, while foreign direct investment through multinational enterprises has risen yet faster. Even more recently, international trade in services and technology has become central. Thus, countries have become more open and more interdependent. All of this raises fundamental policy questions and concerns.

International economics is growing in importance as a field of study because of the rapid integration of international economic markets. More and more, businesses, consumers and governments realize that their lives are increasingly affected, not just by what goes on in their own town, state or country, but by what is happening around the world. Consumers can buy goods and services from all over the world in their local shops. Local businesses must compete with these foreign products. However, these same businesses also have new opportunities to expand their markets by selling in a multitude of other countries. The advance of telecommunications is rapidly reducing the cost of providing services internationally and the internet will assuredly change the nature of many products and services as it expands markets even further than today.

Markets have been going global, and everyone knows it.

One simple way to see this is to look at the growth of exports in the world during the past 50+ years. The following figure shows overall annual exports measured in billions of US dollars from 1948 to 2005. Recognizing that one country's exports are another country's imports, one can see the exponential growth in trade during the past 50 years.

However, rapid growth in the value of exports does not necessarily indicate that trade is becoming more important. Instead, one needs to look at the share of traded goods in relation to the size of the world economy. The adjoining figure shows world exports as a percentage of world GDP for the years 1970 to 2005. It shows a steady increase in trade as a share of the size of the world economy. World exports grew from just over 10% of GDP in 1970 to almost 30% by 2005. Thus, trade is not only rising rapidly in absolute terms, it is becoming relatively more important too.

One other indicator of world interconnectedness can be seen in changes in the amount of foreign direct investment (FDI). FDI is foreign ownership of productive activities and thus is another way in which foreign economic influence can affect a country. The adjoining figure shows the stock, or the sum total value, of FDI around the world taken as a percentage of world GDP between 1980 and 2004. It gives an indication of the importance of foreign ownership and influence around the world. As can be seen, the share of FDI has grown dramatically from around 5% of world GDP in 1980 to over 20% of GDP just 25 years later.

The growth of international trade and investment has been stimulated partly by the steady decline of trade barriers since the Great Depression of the 1930s. In the post World War II era the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT, was an agreement that prompted regular negotiations among a growing body of members to reduce tariffs (import taxes) on imported goods on a reciprocal basis. During each of these regular negotiations, (eight of these rounds were completed between 1948 and 1994), countries promised to reduce their tariffs on imports in exchange for concessions, or tariffs reductions, by other GATT members. When the most recent completed round was finished in 1994, the member countries succeeded in extending the agreement to include liberalization promises in a much larger sphere of influence. Now countries would not only lower tariffs on goods trade, but would begin to liberalize agriculture and services market. They would eliminate the many quota systems - like the multi-fiber agreement in clothing - that had sprouted up in previous decades. And they would agree to adhere to certain minimum standards to protect intellectual property rights such as patents, trademarks and copyrights. The WTO was created to manage this system of new agreements, to provide a forum for regular discussion of trade matters and to implement a well-defined process for settling trade disputes that might arise among countries.

As of 2006, 149 countries were members of the WTO 'trade liberalization club' and many more countries were still negotiating entry. As the club grows to include more members, and if the latest round of trade liberalization discussion called the Doha round concludes with an agreement, world markets will become increasingly open to trade and investment. [Note: the Doha round of discussions was begun in 2001 and remains uncompleted as of 2006]

Another international push for trade liberalization has come in the form of regional free trade agreements. Over 200 regional trade agreements around the world have been notified, or announced, to the WTO. Many countries have negotiated these with neighboring countries or major trading partners, to promote even faster trade liberalization. In part these have arisen because of the slow, plodding pace of liberalization under the GATT/WTO. In part it has occurred because countries have wished to promote interdependence and connectedness with important economic or strategic trade partners. In any case, the phenomenon serves to open international markets even further than achieved in the WTO.

These changes in economic patterns and the trend towards ever increasing openness are an important aspect of the more exhaustive phenomenon known as globalization. Globalization more formally refers to the economic, social, cultural or environmental changes that tend to interconnect peoples around the world. Since the economic aspects of globalization are certainly one of the most pervasive of these changes, it is increasingly important to understand the implications of a global marketplace on consumers, businesses and governments. That is where the study of international economics begins.

There are two broad sub-fields within international economics: international trade and international finance.

What is International Economics

International trade is a field in economics that applies microeconomic models to help understand the international economy. Its content includes the same tools that are introduced in microeconomics courses, including supply and demand analysis, firm and consumer behavior, perfectly competitive, oligopolistic and monopolistic market structures, and the effects of market distortions. The typical course describes economic relationships between consumers, firms, factor owners, and the government.

The objective of an international trade course is to understand the effects on individuals and businesses because of international trade itself, because of changes in trade policies and due to changes in other economic conditions. The course will develop arguments that support a free trade policy as well as arguments that support various types of protectionist policies. By the end of the course, students should better understand the centuries-old controversy between free trade and protectionism.

International finance applies macroeconomic models to help understand the international economy. Its focus is on the interrelationships between aggregate economic variables such as GDP, unemployment rates, inflation rates, trade balances, exchange rates, interest rates, etc. This field expands macroeconomics to include international exchanges. Its focus is on the significance of trade imbalances, the determinants of exchange rates and the aggregate effects of government monetary and fiscal policies. Among the most important issues addressed are the pros and cons of fixed versus floating exchange rate systems.

Some Trade Terminology

In trade policy discussions terms such as protectionism, free trade, and trade liberalization are used repeatedly. It is worthwhile to define these terms at the beginning. One other term is commonly used in the analysis of trade models, namely national autarky, or just autarky.

Two extreme states or conditions could potentially be created by national government policies. At one extreme, a government could pursue a 'laissez faire' policy with respect to trade and thus impose no regulation whatsoever that would impede (or encourage) the free voluntary exchange of goods between nations. We define this condition as free trade. At the other extreme, a government could impose such restrictive regulations on trade as to eliminate all incentive for international trade. We define this condition in which no international trade occurs as national autarky. Autarky represents a state of isolationism. (See Figure).

Probably, a pure state of free trade or autarky has never existed in the real world. All nations impose some form of trade policies. And probably no government has ever had such complete control over economic activity as to eliminate cross-border trade entirely. The real world, instead, consists of countries that fall somewhere between these two extremes. Some countries, such as Singapore and (formerly) Hong Kong, are considered to be highly free trade oriented. Others, like North Korea and Cuba, have long been relatively closed economies and thus are closer to the state of autarky. The rest of the world lies somewhere in between.

Most policy discussions are not about whether governments should pursue one of these two extremes. Instead, discussions focus on which direction a country should move along the trade spectrum. Since every country today is somewhere in the middle, discussions focus on whether policies should move the nation in the direction of free trade or in the direction of autarky.

A movement in the direction of autarky occurs whenever a new trade policy is implemented if it further restricts the free flow of goods and services between countries. Since new trade policies invariably benefit domestic industries by reducing international competition, it is also referred to as protectionism.

A movement in the direction of free trade occurs when regulations on trade are removed. Since the elimination of trade policies will generally increase the amount of international trade, it is referred to as trade liberalization.

Trade policy discussions typically focus, then, on whether the country should increase protectionism or whether it should pursue trade liberalization.

Note that, according to this definition of protectionism, even policies that encourage trade, such as export subsidies, are considered protectionist since they alter the pattern of trade that would have prevailed in the absence of government intervention. This implies that protectionism is much more complex than can be represented along a single dimension (as suggested in the above diagram) since protection can both increase and decrease trade flows. Nevertheless, the representation of the trade spectrum is useful in a number of ways.


Valuable Lessons of International Trade Theory

In this section some of the most important lessons in international trade theory are briefly presented. Often, the lessons that are most interesting and valuable are those that teach something either counterintuitive, or at least contrary to popular opinions. A number of these are represented below. Each explanation also provides links to the pages where the arguments are more fully explained. (Note: For most students, following the links initially may be more confusing than helpful. However, once reading through many of the chapters, review of these lessons may help reinforce them).

  1. The main support for free trade arises because free trade can raise aggregate economic efficiency.
  2. Trade theory shows that some people will suffer losses in free trade.
  3. A country may benefit from free trade even if it is less efficient than all other countries in every industry.
  4. A domestic firm may lose out in international competition even if it is the lowest-cost producer in the world.
  5. Protection may be beneficial for a country.

F.      Although protection can be beneficial, the case for free trade remains strong.

International Agreements

Goods and services are sold every day across national boundaries. These transactions are subject to a myriad of laws, regulations, restrictions and special arrangements. This complex web of laws and regulations is comprised of unilateral measures, meaning national or domestic laws, and further complicated by the international law expressed in trade agreements. There are basically three levels of international trade agreements: bilateral relationships (Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement), multilateral arrangements (GATT and the WTO), and regional agreements (NAFTA, MERCOSUR).

Andean Community. Based on the Cartagena Agreement, this pact seeks to harmonize the trade and investment regimes of its members. Its web page contains information about the community, legislation and jurisprudence, and publications and documents. Some of the pages are available only in Spanish.

CARICOM (Caribbean Common Market). Established in 1973 to from a common market for trade and to promote economic cooperation among its member states. The site contains information about CARICOM, documents, projects and news.

MERCOSUR (Southern Cone Common Market Treaty). Its aim is to dismantle trade barriers and encourage cross-border investment. Most of the important documents are in Spanish. See also the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada MERCOSUR site. This is a very comprehensive site that contains treaties related to MERCOSUR, statistical information, recent developments on integration, and country profiles.

NAFTA Secretariat. Trilateral free trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The Secretariat focuses on the dispute settlement provisions of the NAFTA Agreement and the site contains the rules and the panel reports as well as links to other sites.

Other NAFTA sites include NAFTANET which contains a good deal of information related to NAFTA - text of the agreement, links to other sites, etc. See also the NAFTA Home Page (U.S. Dept. of Commerce), and LANIC's (University of Texas at Austin, Institute of Latin American Studies) NAFTA Resources page. Another excellent resource is the NAFTA page posted by the U.S. Customs Office.

UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) Database. The CISG is referred to as the 'Uniform International Sales Law of countries that account for two-thirds of all world trade.'  This is a very comprehensive site on the CISG. It contains the text of the agreement, analysis, cases, scholarly materials, and more. The links to other international trade databases includes CISG web sites around the world. Other CISG related sites include UNILEX, a collection international case law and bibliography on the CISG, and the UNCITRAL which site contains the text of the agreement, ratification information, and abstracts of case law that refer to the CISG. For more information about the international sale of goods and associated topics, see the Private International Law chapter of the ASIL Guide to Electronic Resources for International Law.

World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO agreements provide for the legal framework for international commerce and trade policy. In the past getting the documents from the GATT was always a challenge unless you had access to the GATT microfiche (which most folks did not have). Now the WTO has entered the electronic age and the web site is the mechanism the WTO has chosen for disseminating information. Not only does this site have information about various trade topics (goods, services, development, etc.), more importantly, it contains the full-text of most documents distributed by the WTO since its creation in January 1995. The legal texts (Uruguay Round agreements) are also available. Another important feature of this site the dispute settlement section (including panel reports). The International Trade Monitor has a nice collection of WTO agreements and other documents. For information on print and electronic sources related to WTO dispute resolution, see WTO Panel Decisions, compiled by Lyo Louis-Jacques, University of Chicago Law Library.

International Trade center and Romania

ITC has worked on trade development in Romania since the early 1990s. The organization's outreach and capacity building in the country began almost immediately after the Berlin Wall came tumbling down. It is the trust, relationships and understanding built up over more than 12 years that has seen ITC's work yield fruits.

From wood products to information technology (IT) and fashion, ITC, working closely with Romanian partners, has helped prepare a range of key sectors for greater international export success. This has implied involvement at every level - from macro-level assistance in the development of a national strategy for export development and the creation of a related trade support network, to the strengthening and fostering of private sector networks, to micro-level assistance aimed at promoting the international competitiveness of individual enterprises.
Now, with accession to the European Union (EU) on the horizon in 2007, and with the
myriad challenges and tremendous commercial opportunities this presents, exporters, producers and providers of goods and services need to continue their journey up a steep learning curve to ensure that they make the most of new markets.

In fact, Romanian authorities are so aware of the need for the population to understand the complexities of EU regulations and standards that they approved the transmission of a 12-part television series this year called Ulita spre Europa. The programme sought not only to entertain, but also to inform Romania's massive farming community of the challenges and opportunities of trading with the lucrative EU food and agricultural markets. The populist TV project, backed by the European Commission, took farming families through the maze of exporting standards and regulations while never drifting too far from the reality of life on the farm.
For ITC, efforts to help Romania's trade development have focused on:

1.         promoting a culture shift and change in mentality amongst Romanian companies to boost their understanding of the need for exporters to deal promptly, thoroughly and systematically with international market requirements;

2.         an appreciation among Romanian producers in selected sectors (notably, garments and textiles, and wood products) of the range of analytical tools (including key tools developed by ITC) that allow exporters to understand, adopt and adapt to the demands of new markets; and

3.         enhancing local capacity to build in greater value-added in products offered and, at the same time, developing the manufacturing flexibility that can adjust to changing fashions and tastes to meet the needs of more demanding markets.

ITC's work in Romania began with a needs assessment in 1991 and, with support and financing largely from seco (the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs), successive projects were carried out through the 1990s. Key to the success of these projects over 12 years has been the establishment of partnerships with public and private bodies and the involvement of local bodies in the needs-assessment process. In 1995 ITC began a partnership with the Romanian Foreign Trade Centre (now the Romanian Trade Promotion Centre, RTPC), which was itself created by merging a government market research centre and a public sector computing centre.

ITC played a vital role in setting up the RTPC by giving advice on how to structure the organization and providing training. It was also the main contributor to a specialized trade information library for the business sector and academia. ITC provided access to the Internet and assisted in the redesign of RTPC's web site, which included access to ITC's online databases and analytical tools tailored to allow exporters to make the most of new international opportunities.

Once the RTPC was up and running, ITC worked with the new centre to focus on private sector competitiveness. The key to success lay in finding the right local counterparts to work with. In-country research and assessments saw ITC/RTPC develop a relationship with the Institute of Fashion, IMOD (see box), and the National Institute of Wood. The project approach aimed at strengthening these two specialist agencies to provide much-needed trade support services to the business sector. Collaboration with the two institutes encouraged selected companies to adopt a process that engineered greater vertical integration, allowing increased value-added for a number of wood furniture and fashion garment exporters.

Today, through the sale of products that ITC helped it to develop, RTPC is approximately 40% self-financing and the success of the partnership has attracted further public and private sector interest for ITC activities in the region.
In 2001, an independent evaluation of ITC's cooperation with Romania was undertaken. It identified several key achievements including:

The Romanian Foreign Trade Centre (now the RTPC), established in 1995, is now recognized as the country's best provider of trade information services. In 1996, in-country experts established the Romanian Association of Purchasing and Supply Management, following a series of ITC training sessions. Since the mid-1990s hundreds of specialists from Romanian companies have undergone training through the association. The training has introduced modern purchasing and supply management techniques and shifted attitudes in many companies to enhance business efficiency.

Romania was amongst the first countries in the world to translate and adapt three of ITC's best-known business publications: Business Guide to the World Trading System; Trade Secrets; and Secrets of Electronic Commerce. All three guides are aimed at helping the business community improve their export capacity.

The success of ITC's trade development work with Romania has prompted both the private and the public sectors in the country to ask the organization to continue working with them. Following the identification of a number of priority needs, ITC has been requested to develop a complex project that would assist in the continued development of a number of key sectors in the country.

Romania Statistics

Romania began the transition from Communism in 1989 with a largely obsolete industrial base and a pattern of output unsuited to the country's needs. The country emerged in 2000 from a punishing three-year recession thanks to strong demand in EU export markets. Despite the global slowdown in 2001-02, strong domestic activity in construction, agriculture, and consumption have kept GDP growth above 4%. However, macroeconomic gains have only recently started to spur creation of a middle class and address Romania's widespread poverty, while corruption and red tape continue to handicap the business environment. Romanian government confidence in continuing disinflation was underscored by its currency revaluation in 2005, making 10,000 'old' lei equal 1 'new' leu. The economy grew at 6.4% in 2006, the strongest growth in the last decade. Romania joined the European Union on 1 January 2007, and the IMF has praised the country's recent reform efforts in preparation for EU accession.







GDP > Real growth rate

7.7 %

Gross National Income


Human Development Index


Population below poverty line

25 %

SOURCES: CIA World Factbook, 14 June, 2007 ; World Development Indicators database; Human Development Report 2006, United Nations Development Programme; World Bank. 2005. World Development Indicators 2005.; ; The Heritage Foundation

Governing Global Trade

The multilateral system that has underpinned world trade for over 50 years is facing serious challenges.

Measured by actual trade flows, the multilateral trading system would appear to have been very successful. Today, WTO members account for more than 90 percent of world trade in goods (including oil). Trade grew, on average, almost twice as fast as GDP between 1990 and 2005 (World Bank, World Development Indicators). Global trade is expected to hit about $16 trillion in 2008, equal to 31 percent of world GDP. At the same time, stocks of foreign direct investment grew almost five times as fast as world GDP. The domestic sales of foreign affiliates are larger than world exports and rely critically on trade in intermediate goods, further underscoring the importance of trade integration in modern economic activity.

Falling transportation costs and other technological innovations have been key drivers of trade growth, but declining barriers to trade have also contributed. Between 1983 and 2003, average applied tariffs on manufacturing in developing countries dropped from slightly less than 30 percent to about 9 percent (World Bank, 2007). Some two-thirds of this liberalization was undertaken unilaterally, and about one-fourth through multilateral agreements.

Developing countries are key players

A key question now is how to take account of the increasing role of developing countries. These countries have become major participants in world trade: their share of global exports rose from 22 percent in 1980 to 32 percent in 2005 and is expected to reach 45 percent by 2030 (see Chart 1) (World Bank, 2006). About two-thirds of the WTO's members are developing countries.


More aid for trade.

 Additional aid to address these constraints-aid for trade-will be an essential complement to any multilateral trade deal. Paradoxically, part of the solution to helping poor countries feel that they have a stake in the trading system lies in the broader development community, with donors supporting countries that highlight trade as a priority in their development strategies. But donors will need to honor their commitments to increase overall aid if trade needs are to be better addressed without competing for resources with existing development priorities.


Agricultural protection. Fifty years of the multilateral trading system has seen limited progress in reining in agricultural protection. In all regions, tariffs remain significantly higher in agriculture than in manufactures (see Chart 2), and trade-distorting subsidies, banned in manufacturing, continue to be a feature of the agricultural sector. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, rich-country taxpayers (in the form of subsidies) and consumers (in the form of higher prices because of trade barriers) pay about $268 billion a year to support agriculture, with the European Union ($134 billion), Japan ($47 billion), and the United States ($43 billion) leading the pack.

Meanwhile, in developing countries, 73 percent of the poor live in rural areas, and agriculture and agroprocessing account for 30-60 percent of GDP and an even larger share of employment. But agricultural protection is also high in developing countries, to the detriment of their own poor consumers, exporters, and other poor countries, which are increasingly their trading partners.

Protection on manufactures.

Although the remaining high tariffs in developed countries tend to be concentrated in areas of developing country export interest (labor-intensive manufactures, such as clothing), protection in developing countries is some four times higher than in high-income countries. The price of high tariffs in developing countries is, again, paid by their own consumers, exporters (whose competitiveness in world markets and participation in global production chains are harmed by more expensive inputs), and their developing country trading partners (which account for one-fourth of developing country exports).

Protection on services.

But the gains from further liberalization in manufactures are dwarfed by the potential gains from liberalization in services: the increase in real income from halving protection on services would be five times larger than that from comparable liberalization in goods trade. Global trade in services accounts for $2.8 trillion, or not quite one-fifth of world trade (World Bank, World Development Indicators). Access to quality and cost-effective services, such as finance, transport, and telecommunications, plays a key role in determining competitiveness.


Trade has a crucial role to play in low income economies. The East Asian experience demonstrated the power of trade to drive growth and generate rapid and lasting reductions in poverty. Similarly, low income countries' growth prospects depend on their ability to expand and diversify their exports, and to increase access to key production inputs and boost productivity through imports. But many countries, particularly in Africa, have failed to achieve a sustained increase in trade. Least developed country (LDC) exports represent only a tiny share - 0.4 per cent - of world trade. LDCs' integration into world trade has actually declined in the last decade relative to other developing countries

It is impossible to isolate the impact of trade reform from the impact of the other accompanying far-reaching reforms in precipitating this loss of income. What is clear is that the legal, regulatory and institutional environment was insufficiently developed to manage the adjustment prompted by the whole range of reforms. The performance of the transition economies is now fast improving,3 suggesting that the bulk of the adjustment is over and the region will be able to sustain economic recovery. Export patterns have changed significantly, in terms of both destination markets and products - for example, the share of agricultural exports in Hungary's total exports has decreased from 22 per cent in 1990 to 8 per cent in 1999 (OECD 2001). Nevertheless, the substantial drop in GDP which these countries experienced was a very high price to pay for longer term prosperity - and might have been mitigated through a better designed reform process.


 Kaempfer and Maskus, ' International Trade: Theory and Evidence'

A. K. Dixit & V. Norman , "Theory of International Trade: A Dual, General Equilibrium"

Michael E. Porter "The Competitive Advantage of Nations" by

Raymond Vernon and Louis T. Wells, Jr., The Manager in the International Economy

Feenstra, Robert, Advanced International Trade: Theory and Evidence

Krugman, P. 1990, Rethinking International Trade

*J. Markusen, J. Melvin, W. Kaempfer, and K. Maskus, International Trade: Theory and Evidence

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