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

  • Asses the complexity of international trade
  • Discuss why a market-oriented economy is so affected by international trade
  • Explain disruptive market change

Economists readily acknowledge that international trade is not all sunshine, roses, and happy endings. Over time, the average person gains from international trade, both as a worker who has greater productivity and higher wages because of the benefits of specialization and comparative advantage, and as a consumer who can benefit from shopping all over the world for a greater variety of quality products at attractive prices. The “average person,” however, is hypothetical, not real—representing a mix of those who have done very well, those who have done all right, and those who have done poorly. It is a legitimate concern of public policy to focus not just on the average or on the success stories, but also on those have not been so fortunate. Workers in other countries, the environment, and prospects for new industries and materials that might be of key importance to the national economy are also all legitimate issues.

The common belief among economists is that it is better to embrace the gains from trade, and then deal with the costs and tradeoffs with other policy tools, than it is to cut off trade to avoid the costs and tradeoffs.

To gain a better intuitive understanding for this argument, consider a hypothetical American company called Technotron. Technotron invents a new scientific technology that allows the firm to increase the output and quality of its goods with a smaller number of workers at a lower cost. As a result of this technology, other U.S. firms in this industry will lose money and will also have to lay off workers—and some of the competing firms will even go bankrupt. Should the United States government protect the existing firms and their employees by making it illegal for Technotron to use its new technology? Most people who live in market-oriented economies would oppose trying to block better products that lower the cost of services. Certainly, there is a case for society providing temporary support and assistance for those who find themselves without work. Many would argue for government support of programs that encourage retraining and acquiring additional skills. Government might also support research and development efforts, so that other firms may find ways of outdoing Technotron. Blocking the new technology altogether, however, seems like a mistake. After all, few people would advocate giving up electricity because it caused so much disruption to the kerosene and candle business. Few would suggest holding back on improvements in medical technology because they might cause companies selling leeches and snake oil to lose money. In short, most people view disruptions due to technological change as a necessary cost that is worth bearing.

Now, imagine that Technotron’s new “technology” is as simple as this: the company imports what it sells from another country. In other words, think of foreign trade as a type of innovative technology. The objective situation is now exactly the same as before. Because of Technotron’s new technology—which in this case is importing goods from another county—other firms in this industry will lose money and lay off workers. Just as it would have been inappropriate and ultimately foolish to respond to the disruptions of new scientific technology by trying to shut it down, it would be inappropriate and ultimately foolish to respond to the disruptions of international trade by trying to restrict trade.

Questions & Answers

Equilibrium of price is one at which the amount demand is exactly equal to the amount supplied explain
Mirza Reply
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what is percentage method in elasticity
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Electricity – run cars are introduced and used in the country.
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What is percentage method in elasticity
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why the cost of essential goods is lower than non essential goods
ABEL Reply
what are differences between perfect competitive and monopoly market?
stedford
the cost of essential goods are lower than that of the non essential ones to make it possibly affordable for each and every class of citizens mainly the poorer ones
Aditi
What is elastic good
Mohamed Reply
what is utility maximisation
Salina
utility maximization Economics concept that, when making a purchase decision, a consumer attempts to get the greatest value possible from expenditure of least amount of money. His or her objective is to maximize the total value derived from the available
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Take some interest in its basic. Try understanding it practically.Dont try to mug up, just go through it with examples
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While owning a farm you decided to sell mangoes in fruit market. Draw figure to show the five features of perfect competition applied to your farm.
zain Reply
define consumer equilibrium
Hafiz Reply
when a consumer gets maximum satisfaction for his limited income is known as consumer equilibrium
ankit
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Source:  OpenStax, Microeconomics. OpenStax CNX. Aug 03, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11627/1.10
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