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In this example, a small or medium plant, like S or M, will not be able to compete in the market with a large or a very large plant like L or V, because the firm that operates L or V will be able to produce and sell their output at a lower price. In this example, economies of scale operate up to point L, but beyond point L to V, the additional scale of production does not continue to reduce average costs of production.

Economies of scale

The graph shows declining average costs. The x-axis plots the quantity of production or the scale of the plant and the y-axis plots the average costs. The average cost curve is a declining function, starting at (30, 30) with plant S, declining at a decreasing rate to (150, 10) with plant L, and (200, 10) with plant V, as explained in the text.
Production Plant S, has an average cost of production of $30 per toaster oven. Production plant M has an average cost of production of $20 per toaster oven. Production plant L has an average cost of production of only $10 per toaster oven. Production plant V would still have an average cost of production of $10 per toaster oven. Thus, production plant M can produce toaster ovens more cheaply than plant S because of economies of scale, and plants L or V can produce more cheaply than S or M because of economies of scale. However, the economies of scale end at an output level of 150. Plant V, despite being larger, cannot produce more cheaply on average than plant L.

The concept of economies of scale becomes especially relevant to international trade when it enables one or two large producers to supply the entire country. For example, a single large automobile factory could probably supply all the cars purchased in a smaller economy like the United Kingdom or Belgium in a given year. However, if a country has only one or two large factories producing cars, and no international trade , then consumers in that country would have relatively little choice between kinds of cars (other than the color of the paint and other nonessential options). Little or no competition will exist between different car manufacturers.

International trade provides a way to combine the lower average production costs that come from economies of scale and still have competition and variety for consumers. Large automobile factories in different countries can make and sell their products around the world. If the U.S. automobile market was made up of only General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, the level of competition and consumer choice would be quite a lot lower than when U.S. carmakers must face competition from Toyota, Honda, Suzuki, Fiat, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Volkswagen, Kia, Hyundai, BMW, Subaru, and others. Greater competition brings with it innovation and responsiveness to what consumers want. America’s car producers make far better cars now than they did several decades ago, and much of the reason is competitive pressure, especially from East Asian and European carmakers.

Dynamic comparative advantage

The sources of gains from intra-industry trade between similar economies—namely, the learning that comes from a high degree of specialization and splitting up the value chain and from economies of scale—do not contradict the earlier theory of comparative advantage. Instead, they help to broaden the concept.

In intra-industry trade, the level of worker productivity is not determined by climate or geography. It is not even determined by the general level of education or skill. Instead, the level of worker productivity is determined by how firms engage in specific learning about specialized products, including taking advantage of economies of scale. In this vision, comparative advantage can be dynamic—that is, it can evolve and change over time as new skills are developed and as the value chain is split up in new ways. This line of thinking also suggests that countries are not destined to have the same comparative advantage forever, but must instead be flexible in response to ongoing changes in comparative advantage.

Key concepts and summary

A large share of global trade happens between high-income economies that are quite similar in having well-educated workers and advanced technology. These countries practice intra-industry trade, in which they import and export the same products at the same time, like cars, machinery, and computers. In the case of intra-industry trade between economies with similar income levels, the gains from trade come from specialized learning in very particular tasks and from economies of scale. Splitting up the value chain means that several stages of producing a good take place in different countries around the world.

Problems

From earlier chapters you will recall that technological change shifts the average cost curves. Draw a graph showing how technological change could influence intra-industry trade.

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Consider two countries: South Korea and Taiwan. Taiwan can produce one million mobile phones per day at the cost of $10 per phone and South Korea can produce 50 million mobile phones at $5 per phone. Assume these phones are the same type and quality and there is only one price. What is the minimum price at which both countries will engage in trade?

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References

U.S. Census Bureau. 2015. “U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services: December 2014.” Accessed April 13, 2015. http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/international/trade/2015/pdf/trad1214.pdf.

U.S. Census Bureau. U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. 2015. “U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services February 2015.” Accessed April 10, 2015. https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/Press-Release/current_press_release/ft900.pdf.

Vernengo, Matias. “What Do Undergraduates Really Need to Know About Trade and Finance?” in Political Economy and Contemporary Capitalism: Radical Perspectives on Economic Theory and Policy , ed. Ron Baiman, Heather Boushey, and Dawn Saunders. M. E. Sharpe Inc, 2000. Armonk. 177-183.

Questions & Answers

what is the important of studying economics
Akurugu Reply
economics teaches you how to think not what think
umer
in order to know how our country operates and corporate with other countries based on the international marketing and to know how our economy is doing regarding incomes going in and out through exchange of goods and services,we have to study more about economics to gain more and better understanding
Betty
important studying economic is make a choice under the condition of scarcity
cafifo
is labour a intermediate good or final good
umer Reply
what is economics
Mahamed Reply
Economic is science, which Studies human behaviour and who they are earn and spend
Ammu
economics is the science which shows how can use scare resources among society
umer
how to derive the equation for the equilibrium level of national income in an open economy with no taxes
loise Reply
what is inflation?
Herry Reply
when price goes up with some shottime
umer
Give me 5 example for Macro economics
Neha Reply
1. Markets 2. Market Failure 3. Competition 4. Price Stability 5. Efficiency
Luyando
please can you explain markets and markets failure ?
Timothy
When we talk about Markets as an example of macroeconomics, we look at demand and supply in labor market.
Luyando
Then for market failures, we focus on market inefficiencies and failures such as the destruction of common goods due to economic systems that provide no incentive for their preservation
Luyando
Who is a discourage worker.?
Timothy
a discourage worker is simply a worker who stop looking for a job because he/she believe no job is available for them..
Joseph
sloping curve normal
Mirasol Reply
A normal sloping curve
Mirasol
State what happen to the aggregate supply curve for beef. The price of beef decrease
Mirasol
i think there is positive relationship between price n supply so as the price decreases the supply curve so decreases and vice versa
Dharani
quantity supply will decrease,less.profit for firms in a perfectly competitive market i guess
Joseph
yaa
Dharani
List two REASONS FOR LOW PRODUCTIVITY IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES?
KHONAYE Reply
DESCRIBE WHY MARGINALISED GROUPS ARE NORMALLY AFFECTED FIRST DURING A RECESSION.I'M IN GRADE 11
KHONAYE
A normal sloping curve
Mirasol
what are varriable of macro economics
maryam Reply
what is Pareto efficiency?
Kgothatso Reply
when you want to something better off you must worse off other thing
umer
What is PPF2?
Joseph Reply
how are commodities important to the country
Oriho Reply
what is the difference between real cost and opportunity cost in economy
Oriho
real costs are total money expenditure for the production of goods and services and opportunity costs is the money which is not included for production, like work of entrepreneurs in their own company
Maheswar
hi everyone how are you?
Prathana Reply
fine wbu
Abinash
fine
ALIM
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hello sachin
Prathana
hi any indians?
Karan
I am not indian I am from Nepal 🇳🇵
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Shraddha
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Karan
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Karan
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Karan
I loved both
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Shraddha
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Haftay
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Maheswar
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Khadak
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Khadak
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cabdirixmaan
Abdirahman haaye seetahay
ALIM
ALIM ABDALLA walale fiican dhankaaga
cabdirixmaan
hello
Muhammad
are you studying macroeconomics.
Muhammad
yes
Muhammad
hi every one
Khan
What is foreign reserve? Why countries reserved? And have any limitations of this reserve?
Adil Reply
what is the difference between gdp and cpi?
Luyando Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Macroeconomics. OpenStax CNX. Jun 16, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11626/1.10
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