Can all countries benefit from free trade?

The reading of the essay inquiry is that by giving illustrations sing the theory of comparative advantage analyse the statement that all states can profit from free trade, even if the economic system is less productive in every industry compared to other economic systems.

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The celebrated economic expert David Ricardo introduced the theory of comparative advantage. Comparative advantage is where an economic system would profit in the production of a good/service where it has a lower chance cost compared to its trading spouses. Whereas, free trade is the exchange of goods/services between economic systems which makes states dependent on each other.

The research has been carried out by analyzing the rule of comparative advantage, whether the states benefit from comparative advantage or non, alternate theories such as Heckscher-Ohlin theoretical account and Stolper-Samulson theory, how economic systems benefit from free trade, what would go on if an economic system was closed to merchandise, protectionism, trade liberalization and with the aid of trade statistics adapted from WTO ( universe trade administration ) , IMF ( International pecuniary fund ) , OECD and ONS ( Office of national statistics ) . All the informations and research are from last ten old ages.

A batch of economic experts are in favor of free trade and comparative advantage. Research has suggested that both developed and developing states have benefited from free trade due to assorted grounds and comparative advantage being one of them. The survey besides shows that due to merchandise liberalization and many other grounds trade has increased over the old ages. Form the findings overall it could be said that benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

International trade is the exchange of good and services between economic systems. It is known that trade takes topographic point chiefly because of specialization and economic systems of graduated table both are rules of comparative advantage. ( Journeyman Television, 2006 )

( Miles, David ) ( 2005 ) Says that ‘comparative advantage means that all states benefit from free trade even if they are characterized by low degrees of productiveness. Underliing this consequence is the construct of chance cost, which means that states have a comparative advantage in industries that they are comparatively or relatively best at. ‘ This suggests that states benefit from comparative advantage even if states are less productive than its trading spouses every bit long as they have an chance cost. Therefore, states should bring forth goods in which they specialise and have a comparative cost sing that it merely gives up fewer resources. Opportunity cost is the forgone chance to bring forth another good. Hence, giving up something to bring forth another good. This means the lower the chance cost, the more a state will profit. This can be seen in the illustration farther on. Therefore, in order for a state to profit, it must bring forth goods at lower chance cost giving up fewer resources.

A state specializes in merchandises for which it has a comparative advantage alternatively of bring forthing everything itself and exports the excess of the specialised goods in exchange for imports from the spouse states. ( Dunkley ) ( 2005 )

If a state has a disadvantage of bring forthing a merchandise with regard to another state, the deprived state can still profit from free trade even if they are less productive in every industry in comparing to other states. If a state is to hold a comparative advantage in bring forthing a merchandise, it must be able to bring forth that peculiar merchandise at a lower chance cost in relation with another state. For illustration:


United kingdom

Jeans ( per twenty-four hours )



Cars ( per twenty-four hours )



As shown on the above tabular array USA is certainly bring forthing more units of denims and autos than UK. In footings of comparative advantage nevertheless, UK is more productive in bring forthing denims in comparing to USA. This is because the chance cost of bring forthing 1 brace of denims in UK is merely 1 auto while for USA it is 2 autos. Therefore, it would be more cost efficient if the USA manufactured the autos and exported the autos to UK while the UK produced denims and exported to USA.

Restrictions of the Ricardian theoretical account:

Gregory P ( hebdomad 5 ) ‘Ricardo ‘s theoretical account is more inactive than dynamic ‘ . This means that the clip period is ignored. Comparative advantage does non stay inactive they can alter in the long tally, due to engineering fluctuations and alteration in competency degree. Dynamic efficiency is when ‘a house will hold a unit cost advantage because of the experience it acquires through cumulative production of goods and services ‘ Nello ( 2009 ) . Decrease in costs may be due to technological betterments, better organisational construction or quality of work.

Both theories, Michalek ( n.d ) ‘Ricardo and Adam Smiths theory assumes perfect competition and perfect cognition ‘ . However, in world multinationals and oligopolies exists and economic systems have protectionist policies. The theory ignores conveyance costs and assumes changeless returns to scale. In world conveyance costs do be nevertheless it varies geographically. For illustration, conveyance costs within the EU would be cheaper than because of the de-fragmented market. However, costs would be higher if states were exporting goods from one continent to another. Third, no trade barriers are assumed between states and two states and two trade goods. Therefore, what would hold been better was to hold known the consequence if any trade barriers or protectionist policies were in topographic point. More on duty and protectionism is explained subsequently in the essay.

Adam Smiths theory of trade is based on absolute advantage. The theory is based on specialization, this means a houses workers are making a insistent undertaking. This saves clip as workers are making the same occupation, which will increase efficiency and the entire end product. Increase in efficiency will be achieved through economic systems of graduated table. Economies of scale generate increased returns due to worsening units of production costs and as a consequence the end product rises. The diagram below can be used to explicate how trade can profit from economic systems of graduated table.

Inactive economic systems of graduated table graph.

Assuming UK and USA are indistinguishable. Point ‘A ‘ will be the equilibrium point before the 2 states start to merchandise. ‘A ‘ will be used for both the states presuming indistinguishable.

At point ‘A ‘ UK and USA can devour and bring forth 20 units of merchandise Ten and merchandise Y. If a state were to specialise, for illustration, say UK wants to increase in production of X, comparatively merchandise Y would fall. To specialise, UK would hold to travel along the curve boulder clay it reaches the specialisation point at B. Vice versa for merchandise Y at B ‘ for USA.

When trading takes topographic point:

United kingdoms can export 30 units of X for 30 units of Y from USA. Hence traveling to indicate ‘E ‘ . Similarly USA can export 30 Y units for 30 Ten units from UK, which leads to both states traveling to ‘E ‘ . As a consequence both states gain from economic systems of graduated table as both UK and USA gain 10 X units and 10 Y units, hence cut downing costs and increasing production.

Merchandise distinction

One of the benefits from trade is that it encourages competition. Product distinction is when a merchandise is produced in the same industry but are differentiated. Hence this gives rise to an extra benefit from trade and besides makes merchandises more attractive since clients have a wider pick of merchandises that suit their demands. Therefore in international trade, the little states benefit more as they have a wider pick. For illustration, France and Germany import and export autos of different theoretical accounts even though they are in the same industry. ( Deardoff, 1998 )

Arguments against free trade

Increased break and increased unemployment

Increased unemployment is created by brotherhoods back uping low skilled labor occupations, which are exported abroad go forthing domestic workers unemployed. Wage inequalities are increasing due to remotion of trade barriers. For illustration, the monetary values of fabric goods autumn in developed states whereas monetary values of fabrication merchandises addition due to greater demand. Lower monetary values on imports put downward force per unit area on rewards paid to moo skilled workers and higher monetary values on exports put upward force per unit area on high skilled workers. This has led to broad addition in pay inequality in developed states. The inequality exists because of technological progresss. However, overall economic public assistance has been increased of a state.

Second, more and better capital demands to be employed. Increase in capital per worker at the same rate of addition in labor is needed. This is known as capital broadening. This will increase investing through the usage of capital, which is good to the economic system in the long tally. Theory suggests that a state should export goods in which it is better at bring forthing and import those goods in which other states have absolute advantage. This means the figure of units of end product a worker can bring forth in one hr or in other words the figure of hours it takes to bring forth one unit. ( Barry University, 2009 )

Even though pattern makes workers perfect, it can take to boredom. This means that there could be a lessening in fringy productiveness and diseconomies of graduated table. The impact will be greater if an economic system was closed to merchandise. This due to a state bring forthing more than one good, it will non be efficient in bring forthing all the goods. Therefore, costs will be higher because of inefficiency taking to diseconomies of graduated table. This reduces overall criterion of life or economic public assistance of a state. This can be explained in the graph below.

Graph-diseconomies of graduated table.


Protectionism is when the authorities protects its domestic manufacturers from viing with foreign manufacturers. This is usually achieved by import quotas, duties or trade stoppages.

Figure shows that what happens in the absence of duty. Powell ( 2005 )

In a domestic market, equilibrium will be at point Ten. At point X, consumers pay monetary value P for the good whereas the measure produced and sold at point Q. Consumers benefit from the given monetary value, hence consumer surplus/welfare is country a, PXZ. Producer surplus/welfare is country b+d, XPU. Nello ( 2009 ) Consumer excess is the difference between the monetary value that a consumer is prepared to pay for a certain measure of a merchandise and the monetary value that is efficaciously paid for that measure. While, manufacturer excess is the difference between the entire gross and the entire cost of the manufacturer and can be considered as the net incomes of the manufacturer.

Imports are priced at P1, which is lower than P. Therefore the new equilibrium is at point V ; domestic demand had increased from Q to Q1 and domestic supply decreased to Q2. The degree of goods imported is between Q1 to Q2. Whereas, the export degree is P1Q2.

When trade takes topographic point, consumer excess additions from B+C points P1VXP but manufacturer excess fell from b+d to country B, points P1NXP.

Now, if a duty is imposed on goods the monetary value will increase from Pw to Pd. The monetary value of a good in the importing state additions and falls in the exporting state. At monetary value Pd demand falls from Qd to Q ‘d and domestic supply additions to Qs to Q ‘s. Therefore, Imports will fall to Q ‘d to Q ‘s. Consumers lose in the importing state and win in the exporting state. Whereas, manufacturers win in the importing state and lose in the exporting state.

Diagram-tariff imposed Nello ( 2009 )

Consumer excess will fall by the wedged shaped country PXYZP1 that is the country equal to A+B+C+D. The addition in monetary value raises the manufacturer excess of domestic houses by the country A and the authorities additions tariff gross shown by the country C. The countries A and C are transportations of public assistance off from consumers, to domestic manufacturers every bit good as the authorities. Therefore, the net public assistance addition loss from the duty is A+B+C+D – [ A+B ] that is equal to B+D.

In a absolutely competitory market, manufacturers and the authorities addition from duty while the consumers are worse off.


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