International Trade and Comparative Advantage

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In spite of the strong theoretical case that can be made for free international trade, every country in the world has erected at least some barriers to trade. Trade restrictions are typically undertaken in an effort to protect companies and workers in the home economy from competition by foreign firms. A protectionist policy is one in which a country restricts the importation of goods and services produced in foreign countries. The India, for example, uses protectionist policies to limit the quantity of foreign- produced sugar coming into country. In general, protectionist policies imposed for a particular good always reduce its supply, raise its price, and reduce the equilibrium quantity. Protection often takes the form of an import tax or a limit on the amount that can be imported, but it can also come in the form of voluntary export restrictions and other barriers. Tariff rates on dutiable imports have fallen dramatically over the course of history. A tariff is a tax on imported goods and services. A tariff raises the cost of selling imported goods. It thus shifts the supply curve for goods to the left. The price of the protected good rises and the quantity available to consumers falls. Protectionist policies reduce the quantities of foreign goods and services supplied to the country that imposes the restriction. As a result, such policies shift the supply curve to the left for the good or service whose imports are restricted. In the case shown, the supply curve shifts to S2, the equilibrium price rises to P2, and the equilibrium quantity falls to Q2. One of the most common protectionist measures now in use is the antidumping proceeding. A domestic firm, faced with competition by a foreign competitor, files charges with its government that the foreign firm is dumping, or charging an unfair price. Under rules spelled out in international negotiations that preceded approval of the World Trade Organization, an unfair price was defined as a price below production

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