Trade is not zero-sum game


“ Trade is non a zero-sum game, in which those who win do so at the costs of others ; it is, or least it can be, a positive-sum game, in which everyone can be a victor. ”

Joseph E. Stiglitz

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In general, free trade is an instrument with the aid of which states can increase productiveness of their resources, develop their specialisation in a certain merchandise, and hence increase volume of production. Sovereign provinces and its separate parts can profit tremendously by bring forthing goods in which they have an advantage, while interchanging them on the goods that they are non able to bring forth every bit efficaciously as the other states do.

Indeed, trade is an engine of growing, but still we have to reply a batch of inquiries to understand whether trade liberalisation is good for economic public presentation, and whether it will take the developing states to farther economic development. We should look back to the history of trade, draw lessons from it, and reply the cardinal inquiries. What is the footing for international division of labour? What are the factors that determine fight of the state on international trade sphere? Is trade liberalisation harmful for the underdeveloped states or non, and what is the best manner for them to accomplish an economic development?

Engagement in international trade brings a batch of advantages to the underdeveloped universe. It helps to fall in other states in the development of scientific discipline and engineering, efficaciously use the resources, to supply the state with a broad scope of merchandises from the other states, and to implement the structural alterations in the economic system in a short period of clip. Can the developing states do so in such short periods of clip? It took decennaries and coevalss for the developed states to construct what they have now. Is their experience suitable for the remainder of the universe? Are they forcing the “ good policies ” in order to assist the underdeveloped universe, or they are merely “ kicking off the ladder ” in order to salvage their ain wealth? Let us see the two chief points of position on these inquiries…

Is trade liberalisation good for economic public presentation?

We can distinguish two mainstreams in international economic dealingss – liberalism and protectionism. The first who developed theoretical and practical attacks of protectionism were mercantilists. Politicss of high duties, limitations of imports, and fiscal support of baby industries took topographic point in XVI -XVIII in many now developed states. During the political relations of protectionism industries of many developed states expanded, and Great Britain, France, Germany, USA and other developed states took their prima places in the market. In the Eighteen century mercantile system was strongly criticized by Adam Smith, and subsequently by David Ricardo. They believed that other states achieved their highest degree of development and prospered merely when they took off all the barriers and applied political relations of free trade. Before the WWI trade was already developing with a high velocity. It was rather easy at that clip due to stable currencies, comparatively free move of capital and labour, and macroeconomic stableness. Between WWI and WWII efforts to liberalise trade were non that successful, but after the World War II all the inquiries refering trade liberalisation appeared in the centre of docket, many international trade organisations emerged, and a batch of understandings were signed.

In our yearss states are more and more involved into the free trade: developed states evidently see the benefits from free trade for themselves and they are seeking to implement different political relations ( “ good policies ” , “ good establishments ” , free markets ) for developing states in order to further economic development. Economic literature has a assortment of plants written by different economic experts refering positive and negative effects of international trade on economic growing. For illustration, Ha-Joon Chang in his book “ Kicking off the ladder ” reviews the history of different now developed states and argues that there are a batch of myths refering the policies which were used by the authoritiess of these states on their manner to economic growing. Particularly, he mentions the economic policies of both Britain and the USA, which now seem to be truly concerned about universe free trade and gap markets. During different historical periods different instruments of protectionism were used by these states: baby industry protection, export subsidies, export quality control by the province, duty and nontariff barriers, etc. Looking back to different historical periods we can see that today ‘s development states are utilizing protectionism much more less that developed states did in the earlier times. For illustration, the World Bank argues that the mean duty on industries for developing states is high plenty, compared to the one industrialised states used earlier, but the productiveness spread increased which means that developing states need to utilize much higher duties in order to advance economic growing for their industries.

Equally shortly as the developed states reached the necessary degree of development they started utilizing so called “ pulling-away exercisings ” . “ Equally shortly as NDC ‘s reached the top, they used all sort of tactics to “ pull-away ” from the follower states. Policies deployed were, of class, different harmonizing to the political position of the latter-colonies, semi-independent states bound by unequal pacts, and independent rival states. Britain was peculiarly aggressive in forestalling development in the settlements. “ ( Ha-Joon Chang “ Kicking the ladder off ” ) One more of import point arises from the history of institutional development. It took rather a long period of clip for the developed states to construct their establishments, nevertheless now they are forcing developing states to the “ planetary criterions ” , demanding reforms in 5-10 twelvemonth period, which is non that existent and really possibly even harmful. Chang in his work besides states that developing states were turning economically much faster when they were utilizing “ bad policies ” , instead when they are utilizing “ good policies ” right now. Pulling lessons from history so we can presume that developed states are merely seeking to forestall farther development of other states and salvage their ain prosperity.

There are a batch of statements among the economic experts refering the inquiry of injury that free trade can convey for domestic industries. No uncertainty, it is good for consumers, because they are acquiring goods for lower monetary values, but domestic industries will lose their net incomes due to lower monetary values of imported goods. This can decelerate down further development of domestic industries, lead to deindustrialization and specialisation chiefly on natural stuffs in a long tally ; though in a short tally it can increase currency net incomes from exports, aid pay debts and lessening shortages. The scheme of exporting and liberalisation of trade is non ever suited for the states with passage economic system, because it may take to farther spread in life degree ( poorness ) and technological advancement. Indeed, it can be truly harmful for the underdeveloped universe to open up their markets without happening a right policy, suited for their specific state of affairs inside the state, but states can profit every bit good.

An illustration of USSR shows us that political relations of active authorities intercession and dirigiste political relations does n’t hold a positive influence on economic system as good ; on the other manus we have an export oriented policy, policy of integrating with the universe economic system of Japan and East Asia, which brought them to fast economic growing.

A batch of statements in favour of free trade can besides convert us that free trade can be an engine of economic growing and states can profit tremendously. Joseph E. Stiglitz in his book “ Making Globalization Work ” brings us a batch of statements of positive effects of free trade, particularly for the underdeveloped universe. It seems like right now we still have n’t got all the benefits out of it, because different instruments of unjust trade are still being used by the developed states.

Free trade maximizes competition, which leads to the addition of end product, as a consequence monetary values fall down and this has a positive consequence for consumers. Openness may take to economical growing, cut down of poorness, addition of wellness and instruction degree, liberalisation of labour markets can convey immense remittals to developing states ; development of establishments in a short period of clip and it can assist shut the spread in cognition and resources between developed and developing universe, by supplying developing states with more chances. In today ‘s globalizing universe states with a closed economic system are under the hazard to remain far behind the developed universe, stay undeveloped.


To merchandise or non to merchandise is non a inquiry any more – it is obvious that states need to merchandise in order to advance their economic public presentation. The job that we should be concerned about is how we can do trade fairer for everybody and whether these specific policies are suited for every state. Of class, those states whose industries are more developed are voting in favour of free markets, trade liberalisation and lower duty barriers in order to acquire rid of excess production and unfastened new markets for themselves. We can really do this work without harming infant industries of developing states. Trade liberalisation can hold a positive consequence every bit good as negative, particularly for developing universe and we should be concerned to maximise positive consequence, and take the most out of it.

“ Leting developing states to follow the policies and establishments that are more suited to their phases of development and to other conditions they face will enable them to turn faster. This will profit non merely the development states, but besides the developed states in the long tally, as it will increase the trade and investing chances available to the developed states in the development states. ” ( Ha-Joon Chang “ Kicking off the ladder ” )


  • Ha-Joon Chang “ Kicking Away the Ladder ”
  • L.Alan Winters “ Trade Liberalization and Poverty. The Evidence So Far ”
  • Ajit Singh “ Special and Differential Treatment. The Multilateral Trading System and Economic Development in the Twenty-first Century ”
  • Joseph E. Stiglitz “ Making Globalization Work ”
  • Moon “ The theoretical and Historical Origins of Trade Issues ”


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