Global trade allows wealthy countries to use their resources - whether labor, technology or capital - more efficiently. Because countries are endowed with different assets and natural resources (land, labor, capital and technology), some countries may produce the same good more efficiently and therefore sell it more cheaply than other countries. If a country cannot efficiently produce an item, it can obtain the item by trading with another country that can. This is known as specialization in international trade.
Let's take a simple example. Country A and Country B both produce cotton sweaters and wine. Country A produces 10 sweaters and six bottles of wine a year while Country B produces six sweaters and 10 bottles of wine a year. Both can produce a total of 16 units. Country A, however, takes three hours to produce the 10 sweaters and two hours to produce the six bottles of wine (total of five hours). Country B, on the other hand, takes one hour to produce 10 sweaters and three hours to produce six bottles of wine (total of four hours).
But these two countries realize that they could produce more by focusing on those products with which they have a comparative advantage. Country A then begins to produce only wine and Country B produces only cotton sweaters. Each country can now create a specialized output of 20 units per year and trade equal proportions of both products. As such, each country now has access to 20 units of both products.
We can see then that for both countries, the opportunity cost of producing both products is greater than the cost of specializing. More specifically, for each country, the opportunity cost of producing 16 units of both sweaters and wine is 20 units of both products (after trading). Specialization reduces their opportunity cost and therefore maximizes their efficiency in acquiring the goods they need. With the greater supply, the price of each product would decrease, thus giving an advantage to the end... [continues]
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(2011, 01). International Trade. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 01, 2011, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/International-Trade-561144.html
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"International Trade." StudyMode.com. 01, 2011. Accessed 01, 2011. http://www.studymode.com/essays/International-Trade-561144.html.