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International trade is the exchange of capital, goods, and services across international borders or territoriesbecause there is a need or want of goods or services.
In most countries, such trade represents a significant share of gross domestic product (GDP). While international trade has existed throughout history (for example Uttarapatha, Silk Road, Amber Road, scramble for Africa, Atlantic slave trade, salt roads), its economic, social, and political importance has been on the rise in recent centuries.
Carrying out trade at an international level is a complex process when compared to domestic trade. When trade takes place between two or more states factors like currency, government policies, economy, judicial system, laws, and markets influence trade.
To ease and justify the process of trade between countries of different economic standing in the modern era, some international economic organizations were formed, such as the World Trade Organization. These organizations work towards the facilitation and growth of international trade. Statistical services of intergovernmental and supranational organizations and governmental statistical agencies publish official statistics on international trade.
A product that is transferred or sold from a party in one country to a party in another country is an export from the originating country, and an import to the country receiving that product. Imports and exports are accounted for in a country's current account in the balance of payments.
Trading globally may give consumers and countries the opportunity to be exposed to new markets and products. Almost every kind of product can be found in the international market, for example: food, clothes, spare parts, oil, jewellery, wine, stocks, currencies, and water. Services are also traded, such as in tourism, banking, consulting, and transportation.
Advanced technology (including transportation), globalization, industrialization, outsourcing and multinational corporations have major impacts on the international trade system.
International trade is, in principle, not different from domestic trade as the motivation and the behavior of parties involved in a trade do not change fundamentally regardless of whether trade is across a border or not.
However, in practical terms, carrying out trade at an international level is typically a more complex process than domestic trade. The main difference is that international trade is typically more costly than domestic trade. This is due to the fact that a border typically imposes additional costs such as tariffs, time costs due to border delays, and costs associated with country differences such as language, the legal system, or culture (non-tariff barriers).
Another difference between domestic and international trade is that factors of production such as capital and labor are often more mobile within a country than across countries. Thus, international trade is mostly restricted to trade in goods and services, and only to a lesser extent to trade in capital, labour, or other factors of production. Trade in goods and services can serve as a substitute for trade in factors of production. Instead of importing a factor of production, a country can import goods that make intensive use of that factor of production and thus embody it. An example of this is the import of labor-intensive goods by the United States from China. Instead of importing Chinese labor, the United States imports goods that were produced with Chinese labor. One report in 2010, suggested that international trade was increased when a country hosted a network of immigrants, but the trade effect was weakened when the immigrants became assimilated into their new country.
The history of international trade chronicles notable events that have affected trading among various economies.
There are several models that seek to explain the factors behind international trade, the welfare consequences of trade and the pattern of trade.
The following table is a list of the 21 largest trading states according to the World Trade Organization. [ failed verification ]
|Rank||State||International trade of|
goods (billions of USD)
|International trade of|
services (billions of USD)
|Total international trade|
of goods and services
(billions of USD)
|21||United Arab Emirates||491||92||583|
|Rank||Commodity||Value in US$('000)||Date of |
|1||Mineral fuels, oils, distillation products, etc.||$2,183,079,941||2015|
|2||Electrical, electronic equipment||$1,833,534,414||2015|
|3||Machinery, nuclear reactors, boilers, etc.||$1,763,371,813||2015|
|4||Vehicles (excluding railway)||$1,076,830,856||2015|
|5||Plastics and articles thereof||$470,226,676||2015|
|6||Optical, photo, technical, medical, etc. apparatus||$465,101,524||2015|
|8||Iron and steel||$379,113,147||2015|
|10||Pearls, precious stones, metals, coins, etc.||$348,155,369||2015|
Source: International Trade Centre
In the United States, the various U.S. Presidents have held observances to promote big and small companies to be more involved with the export and import of goods and services. President George W. Bush observed World Trade Week on May 18, 2001, and May 17, 2002.On May 13, 2016, President Barack Obama proclaimed May 15 through May 21, 2016, World Trade Week, 2016. On May 19, 2017, President Donald Trump proclaimed May 21 through May 27, 2017, World Trade Week, 2017. World Trade Week is the third week of May. Every year the President declares that week to be World Trade Week.
In the case of food production trade-offs in forms of local food and distant food production are controversial with limited studies comparing environmental impact and scientists cautioning that regionally specific environmental impacts should be considered.Effects of local food on greenhouse gas emissions may vary per origin and target region of the production. A 2020 study indicated that local food crop production alone cannot meet the demand for most food crops with "current production and consumption patterns" and the locations of food production at the time of the study for 72–89% of the global population and 100–km radiuses as of early 2020. Studies found that food miles are a relatively minor factor of carbon emissions, albeit increased food localization may also enable additional, more significant, environmental benefits such as recycling of energy, water, and nutrients. For specific foods regional differences in harvest seasons may make it more environmentally friendly to import from distant regions than more local production and storage or local production in greenhouses.
Qualitative differences between substitutive products of different production regions may exist due to different legal requirements and quality standards or different levels of controllability by local production- and governance-systems which may have aspects of security beyond resource security, environmental protection, product quality and product design and health. The process of transforming supply as well as labor rights may differ as well.
Local production has been reported to increase local employment in many cases. A 2018 study claimed that international trade can increase local employment.A 2016 study found that local employment and total labor income in both manufacturing and nonmanufacturing were negatively affected by rising exposure to imports.
Local production in high-income countries, rather than distant regions may require higher wages for workers. Higher wages incentivize automationwhich could allow for automated workers' time to be reallocated by society and its economic mechanisms or be converted into leisure-like time.
Local production may require knowledge transfer, technology transfer and may not be able to compete in efficiency initially with specialized, established industries and businesses, or in consumer demand without policy measures such as eco-tariffs. Regional differences may cause specific regions to be more suitable for a specific production, thereby increasing the advantages of specific trade over specific local production. Forms of local products that are highly localized may not be able to meet the efficiency of more large-scale, highly consolidated production in terms of efficiency, including environmental impact.[ citation needed ]
A systematic, and possibly first large-scale, cross-sectoral analysis of water, energy and land in security in 189 countries that links total and sectorial consumption to sources showed that countries and sectors are highly exposed to over-exploited, insecure, and degraded such resources with economic globalization having decreased security of global supply chains. The 2020 study finds that most countries exhibit greater exposure to resource risks via international trade – mainly from remote production sources – and that diversifying trading partners is unlikely to help countries and sectors to reduce these or to improve their resource self-sufficiency.
Mundra, Kusum, Immigrant Networks and U.S. Bilateral Trade: The Role of Immigrant Income. IZA Discussion Paper No. 5237. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1693334 ... this paper finds that the immigrant network effect on trade flows is weakened by the increasing level of immigrant assimilation.
Higher wages Advanced economies have higher wages because total factor productivity is higher. These higher wages induce firms in advanced economies to use robots more intensively, to begin with, especially when robots easily substitute for workers. Then, when robot productivity rises, the advanced economy will benefit more in the long run. This divergence grows larger, the more robots substitute for workers.
The Economy of Guatemala is a considered a developing economy, highly dependent on agriculture, particularly on traditional crops such as coffee, sugar, and bananas. Guatemala's GDP per capita is roughly one-third of Brazil's. The Guatemalan economy is the largest in Central America. It grew 3.3 percent on average from 2015 to 2018. However, Guatemala remains one of the poorest countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, having highly unequal incomes and chronically malnourished children. The country is beset by political insecurity, and lacks skilled workers and infrastructure. It depends on remittances for nearly one-tenth of the GDP.
The Tariff Act of 1930, commonly known as the Smoot–Hawley Tariff or Hawley–Smoot Tariff, was a law that implemented protectionist trade policies in the United States. Sponsored by Senator Reed Smoot and Representative Willis C. Hawley, it was signed by President Herbert Hoover on June 17, 1930. The act raised US tariffs on over 20,000 imported goods.
A tariff is a tax imposed by a government of a country or of a supranational union on imports or exports of goods. Besides being a source of revenue for the government, import duties can also be a form of regulation of foreign trade and policy that taxes foreign products to encourage or safeguard domestic industry. Tariffs are among the most widely used instruments of protectionism, along with import and export quotas.
Free trade is a trade policy that does not restrict imports or exports. It can also be understood as the free market idea applied to international trade. In government, free trade is predominantly advocated by political parties that hold economic liberal positions, while economic nationalist and left-wing political parties generally support protectionism, the opposite of free trade.
Import substitution industrialization (ISI) is a trade and economic policy that advocates replacing foreign imports with domestic production. It is based on the premise that a country should attempt to reduce its foreign dependency through the local production of industrialized products. The term primarily refers to 20th-century development economics policies, but it has been advocated since the 18th century by economists such as Friedrich List and Alexander Hamilton.
Protectionism is the economic policy of restricting imports from other countries through methods such as tariffs on imported goods, import quotas, and a variety of other government regulations. Proponents argue that protectionist policies shield the producers, businesses, and workers of the import-competing sector in the country from foreign competitors; however, they also reduce trade and adversely affect consumers in general, and harm the producers and workers in export sectors, both in the country implementing protectionist policies and in the countries protected against.
An export in international trade is a good produced in one country that is sold into another country or a service provided in one country for a national or resident of another country. The seller of such goods or the service provider is an exporter; the foreign buyer is an importer. Services that figure in international trade include financial, accounting and other professional services, tourism, education as well as intellectual property rights.
Trade barriers are government-induced restrictions on international trade. Economists generally agree that trade barriers are detrimental and decrease overall economic efficiency; this can be explained by the theory of comparative advantage.
Trade justice is a campaign by non-governmental organisations, plus efforts by other actors, to change the rules and practices of world trade in order to promote fairness. These organizations include consumer groups, trade unions, faith groups, aid agencies and environmental groups.
Non-tariff barriers to trade are trade barriers that restrict imports or exports of goods or services through mechanisms other than the simple imposition of tariffs.
Trade can be a key factor in economic development. The prudent use of trade can boost a country's development and create absolute gains for the trading partners involved. Trade has been touted as an important tool in the path to development by prominent economists. However trade may not be a panacea for development as important questions surrounding how free trade really is and the harm trade can cause domestic infant industries to come into play.
The Heckscher–Ohlin model is a general equilibrium mathematical model of international trade, developed by Eli Heckscher and Bertil Ohlin at the Stockholm School of Economics. It builds on David Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage by predicting patterns of commerce and production based on the factor endowments of a trading region. The model essentially says that countries export the products which use their abundant and cheap factors of production, and import the products which use the countries' scarce factors.
International economics is concerned with the effects upon economic activity from international differences in productive resources and consumer preferences and the international institutions that affect them. It seeks to explain the patterns and consequences of transactions and interactions between the inhabitants of different countries, including trade, investment and transaction.
International business refers to the trade of goods, services, technology, capital and/or knowledge across national borders and at a global or transnational scale.
Global labor arbitrage is an economic phenomenon where, as a result of the removal of or disintegration of barriers to international trade, jobs move to nations where labor and the cost of doing business is inexpensive and/or impoverished labor moves to nations with higher paying jobs.
In economics, gains from trade are the net benefits to economic agents from being allowed an increase in voluntary trading with each other. In technical terms, they are the increase of consumer surplus plus producer surplus from lower tariffs or otherwise liberalizing trade.
An eco-tariff, also known as an environmental tariff or carbon tariff, is a trade barrier erected for the purpose of reducing pollution and improving the environment. These trade barriers may take the form of import or export taxes on products that have a large carbon footprint or are imported from countries with lax environmental regulations. The proposed EU Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism would be a carbon tariff.
Global workforce refers to the international labor pool of workers, including those employed by multinational companies and connected through a global system of networking and production, immigrant workers, transient migrant workers, telecommuting workers, those in export-oriented employment, contingent work or other precarious employment. As of 2012, the global labor pool consisted of approximately 3 billion workers, around 200 million unemployed.
International trade theory is a sub-field of economics which analyzes the patterns of international trade, its origins, and its welfare implications. International trade policy has been highly controversial since the 18th century. International trade theory and economics itself have developed as means to evaluate the effects of trade policies.
Economic globalization is one of the three main dimensions of globalization commonly found in academic literature, with the two others being political globalization and cultural globalization, as well as the general term of globalization. Economic globalization refers to the widespread international movement of goods, capital, services, technology and information. It is the increasing economic integration and interdependence of national, regional, and local economies across the world through an intensification of cross-border movement of goods, services, technologies and capital. Economic globalization primarily comprises the globalization of production, finance, markets, technology, organizational regimes, institutions, corporations, and people.
Data on the value of exports and imports and their quantities often broken down by detailed lists of products are available in statistical collections on international trade published by the statistical services of intergovernmental and supranational organisations and national statistical institutes. The definitions and methodological concepts applied for the various statistical collections on international trade often differ in terms of definition (e.g. special trade vs. general trade) and coverage (reporting thresholds, inclusion of trade in services, estimates for smuggled goods and cross-border provision of illegal services). Metadata providing information on definitions and methods are often published along with the data.