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By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Identify at least two advantages of intra-industry trading
  • Explain the relationship between economies of scale and intra-industry trade

Absolute and comparative advantages explain a great deal about patterns of global trade. For example, they help to explain the patterns noted at the start of this chapter, like why you may be eating fresh fruit from Chile or Mexico, or why lower productivity regions like Africa and Latin America are able to sell a substantial proportion of their exports to higher productivity regions like the European Union and North America. Comparative advantage, however, at least at first glance, does not seem especially well-suited to explain other common patterns of international trade.

The prevalence of intra-industry trade between similar economies

The theory of comparative advantage suggests that trade should happen between economies with large differences in opportunity costs of production. Roughly half of all world trade involves shipping goods between the fairly similar high-income economies of the United States, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Mexico, and China (see [link] ).

(Source: https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/Press-Release/current_press_release/ft900.pdf)
Where u.s. exports go and u.s. imports originate (2015)
Country U.S. Exports Go to ... U.S. Imports Come from ...
European Union 19.0% 21.0%
Canada 22.0% 14.0%
Japan   4.0%   6.0%
Mexico 15.0% 13.0%
China 8.0% 20.0%

Moreover, the theory of comparative advantage suggests that each economy should specialize to a degree in certain products, and then exchange those products. A high proportion of trade, however, is intra-industry trade    —that is, trade of goods within the same industry from one country to another. For example, the United States produces and exports autos and imports autos. [link] shows some of the largest categories of U.S. exports and imports. In all of these categories, the United States is both a substantial exporter and a substantial importer of goods from the same industry. In 2014, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the United States exported $159 billion worth of autos, and imported $327 billion worth of autos. About 60% of U.S. trade and 60% of European trade is intra-industry trade.

(Source: http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/international/trade/tradnewsrelease.htm)
Some intra-industry u.s. exports and imports in 2014
Some U.S. Exports Quantity of Exports ($ billions) Quantity of Imports ($ billions)
Autos $146 $327
Food and beverages $144 $126
Capital goods $550 $551
Consumer goods $199 $558
Industrial supplies  $507  $665
Other transportation  $45  $55

Why do similar high-income economies engage in intra-industry trade? What can be the economic benefit of having workers of fairly similar skills making cars, computers, machinery and other products which are then shipped across the oceans to and from the United States, the European Union, and Japan? There are two reasons: (1) The division of labor    leads to learning, innovation, and unique skills; and (2) economies of scale.

Questions & Answers

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Usman Reply
microeconomic deal with the study of individual firms and household and macroeconomics deal with the economy as a whole.
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malonzy Reply
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Sunday Reply
demand means desire for a commodity backed by willingness & ability to pay for that commodity
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supply means suppliers supplying more commodities when price's high or less when price's low to satisfy human want
the coefficient of price elasticity of supply is the measure of percentage change in the quantity supplied of a good due to a given percentage change in its price.
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Cardinal utility is the satisfaction derived by the consumers from the consumption of goods and services while ordinal is ranked in terms of preference.
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Economics Economics - The study of how people use their limited resources to try to satisfy unlimited wants
Economic integration has been one of the main economic developments affecting international trade in the last years. Countries have wanted to engage in economic cooperation to use their respective resources more effectively and to provide large markets for member-countries of the resulting integrate
Inelastic Demand When consumers are relatively unresponsive to price changes. A PED coefficient of less than one means that a particular change in the price of a good will be met by a proportionally smaller change in the quantity demanded.
demand refers to goods and services that a consumer is willing and able to buy at given rate over a given period of time
Demand  - The entire relationship between the quantity of product that buyers wish to purchase per period time and the price of that product..
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what is development planning?
Emmanuel Reply
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economics is study of scarcity and how humans make decisions.
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when a person is part 50% rational and the other part of him is 50% focused on money as an incentive
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must find out the problems originating from and take remedy for it.
Economics as a social science Discuss

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Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
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