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Theories Of International Trade


International Trade is that the exchanging method of goods and services across the international border. In 2010, the worth of international tread achieved 19 trillion (US) dollars that is about 30% of the world GDP. That is almost one third of production of goods and services are exchanged internationally around the world. International trade is the exchange between two folks or entities in two different countries. International trade theories are completely different type of theories that give explanation on international trade.

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In 1600 and 1700 centuries, mercantilism concerned that countries ought to at the same time encourage exports and discourage imports. Though mercantilism is Associate in tending previous theory it echoes in fashionable politics and trade policies of the many countries. The classical social scientist Smith, United Nations agency developed the idea of absolute advantage, was the primary to elucidate why unrestricted trade is useful to a rustic. Smith argues that the invisible hand of the market mechanism, instead of government policy, ought to confirm what a rustic imports and what it exports.

Heckscher-Ohlin theory is mainly popular on theoretical grounds, however in real-world international trade pattern it clothed to not be simply transferred, observed because the Wassily Leontief contradiction in terms. Another theory attempting to elucidate the letdown of the Hecksher-Ohlin theory of international trade was the product life cycle theory developed by Raymond Vernon.

Theories of International trade:


According to Wild, 2000, the trade theory that state that nations ought to accumulate money wealth, typically within the style of gold, by encouraging exports and discouraging imports is termed mercantilism. In line with this theory different measures of countries’ well being, like living standards or human development, area unit tangential mainly Great britain, France, Holland, Portuguese Republic and Spain used mercantilism throughout the 1500s to the late 1700s.

Mercantilistic countries experienced the alleged game, that meant that world wealth was restricted which countries solely may increase their share at expense of their neighbours. The economic development was prevented once the mercantilistic countries paid the colonies very little for export and charged them high value for import. The most downside with mercantilism is that every one country engaged in export however was restricted from import, another hindrance from growth of international trade.

Absolute Advantage:

The Scottish social scientist Smith developed the trade theory of absolute advantage in 1776. A rustic that has associate absolute advantage produces larger output of a decent or service than different countries mistreatment an equivalent quantity of resources. Smith declared that tariffs and quotas mustn’t limit international trade it ought to be allowed to flow in step with economic process. Contrary to mercantilism Smith argued that a rustic ought to focus on production of products within which it holds associate absolute advantage. No country then ought to turn out all the products it consumed. The speculation of absolute advantage destroys the mercantilistic concept that international trade could be a game. In step with absolutely the advantage theory, international trade could be a positive-sum game, as a result of there are gains for each countries to associate exchange. In contrast to mercantilism this theory measures the nation’s wealth by the living standards of its folks and not by gold and silver.

There’s a possible drawback with absolute advantage. If there’s one country that doesn’t have associate absolute advantage within the production of any product, can there still be profit to trade, and can trade even occur. The solution is also found within the extension of absolute advantage, the speculation of comparative advantage.

Comparative Advantage:

The most basic idea within the whole of international trade theory is that the principle of comparative advantage, first introduced by economist David Ricardo in 1817. It remains a serious influence on a lot of international foreign policy and is thus necessary in understanding the fashionable international economy. The principle of comparative advantage states that a rustic ought to specialize in manufacturing and exportation those merchandise during which is includes a comparative, or relative price, advantage compared with different countries and will import those merchandise during which it’s a comparative disadvantage. Out of such specialization, it’s argued, can accrue larger profit for all.

During this theory there square measure many assumptions that limit the real-world application. The idea that countries square measure driven solely by the maximization of production and consumption and not by problems out of concern for employees or customers may be a mistake.

Heckscher-Ohlin theory:

In the early decade a world trade theory referred to as issue proportions theory emerged by two Swedish economists, Eli Heckscher and Bertil Ohlin. This theory is additionally referred to as the Heckscher-Ohlin theory. The Heckscher-Ohlin theory stress that countries ought to turn out and export merchandise that need resources that area unit well endowed and import merchandise that need resources in brief provide. This theory differs from the theories of comparative advantage and absolute advantage since these theory focuses on the production of the assembly method for a selected smart. On the contrary, the Heckscher-Ohlin theory states that a rustic ought to specialize production and export victimization the factors that area unit most well endowed, and so the most cost effective. Not turn out, as earlier theories declared, the products it produces most expeditiously.

The Heckscher-Ohlin theory is most well-liked to the Ricardo theory by several economists, as a result of it makes fewer simplifying assumptions. In 1953, economic expert revealed a study, wherever he tested the validity of the Heckscher-Ohlin theory. The study showed that the U.S was additional well endowed in capital compared to alternative countries, thus the U.S would export capital- intensive merchandise and import labor-intensive merchandise. Wassily Leontief observed that the U.S’s export was less capital intensive than import.

Product life cycle theory:

International product life cycle theory developed by Raymond Vernon within the 1960. The international product life cycle theory stresses that a corporation can begin to export its product and later battle foreign direct investment because the product moves through its life cycle. Eventually a country’s export becomes its import. Though the model is developed round the U.S it is generalized and applied to any of the developed and innovative markets of the globe.

The product life cycle theory was developed throughout the 1960 and targeted on the U.S since most innovations came from that market. This was associate applicable theory at that point since the U.S dominated the globe trade. Today, the U.S isn’t any longer the sole originator of product within the world. These days’ firms style new product and modify them abundant faster than before. Firm’s area unit forced to introduce the product in many alternative markets at a similar time to achieve value edges before its sales declines. The idea doesn’t make a case for trade patterns of these days.

Assumptions of comparative advantage:

Comparative advantage theory is useful to form variety of assumptions.

Mostly all prices are invariant and there are not any economies of scale.

There are solely two economies making two merchandise.

This theory assumes that each one listed merchandise is uniform.

This theory assumes that factors of production are assumed to be utterly mobile.

This theory assumes that no tariffs or different trade barriers.

This theory provides good information, in order that each consumers and sellers apprehend wherever they’ll get most cost-effective merchandise internationally.

This theory assumes labor is utterly mobile among the country however utterly immobile between countries.

Doubling the inputs in every country results in a doubling of total output of company.

Literature review:

Tracing back the evolution of what these days is recognized because the customary theory of international trade, one goes back to the years between 1776 and 1826, that severally mark the publications of Adam Smith’s (1986,1776) Wealth of states and David Ricardo’s Principles of political economy (1951). The two volumes herald the formulation of a theory of trade, based on the unexampled success of England within the several fields of trade and trade. For Smith, the division of labor, within the emergent large-scale industries of his country England, provided the bottom for lowering labor prices that ensured effective competition across countries. potential dilemmas in terms of the requirement for financial changes for countries having a continuous trade surplus (with absolute advantage all told listed goods) may be shelved aside by wishing on the automated adjustment, in terms of the price flow mechanism, the theory offered by Smith’s modern, Henry Martyn Robert David Hume (1971,1776), round the same time.

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It was left to David Ricardo to plan out the essential premises of a theory of trade that Smith had initiated. Industrial market economy in Ricardo’s England was at a comparatively advanced stage as compared to what it absolutely was in Smith’s time, each with rise of large-scale industries and captive markets in overseas colonies. Imports of wage merchandise had a special role by cheapening wage merchandise and thus labor price for trade in Ricardo’s England. Free trade, as opposed to the Mercantilist policies of protection, was championed by each Smith and David Ricardo as a route to realize production potency at a world level. Ricardo’s price calculations, despite his issues for the introduction of machinery on an oversized scale, were supported labor hours, which were treated as one consistent input with production (in a two trade goods world) subject to constant prices. It absolutely was comparative and not absolute advantage, that was thought-about both necessary, similarly as adequate, to confirm reciprocally profitable trade across nations, warranting complete specialization within the specific trade goods with a comparative advantage in terms of labor hours used per unit of output.

Analysis of export & import of England:

According to the latest information from October 2011, the UK’s biggest export within the year thus far was nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances. Mineral fuels, mineral oils and merchandise of their distillation, bituminous substances and mineral waxes followed in second place, though incidentally it absolutely was conjointly the foremost extremely foreign product in 2011 rising by 46 % on the year.

Vehicles aside from railway or tramway rolling-stock, and elements and accessories thence stratified as each third highest import and export. Within the year thus far (October 2011) the united kingdom exported £23bn price and spent £32bn on commerce this stuff.

The U.S. received the foremost British export product last year, followed by European country and France. The highest trade partner for imports was European country, followed by the U.S. and China. The United Kingdom exported £31.7bn price of merchandise to the North American country.


Mercantilism projected that a rustic ought to try and export over it imports, so as to receive gold. The most criticism of mercantilism is that countries area unit restricted from import, a hindrance of international trade. Economist developed the idea of absolute advantage that stressed that a rustic ought to turn out merchandise or services if it uses a lesser quantity of resources than different countries. Ricardo explicit in his theory of comparative advantage that a rustic ought to concentrate on manufacturing and commercialism product within which it’s a comparative advantage and it ought to import merchandise within which it’s a comparative disadvantage. Hecksher-Ohlin’s theory of issue endowments stressed that a rustic ought to turn out and export merchandise that need resources that area unit overabundant within the home country. Economic expert tested the Hecksher-Ohlin theory within the U.S. and located that it absolutely was not applicable within the U.S. Raymond Vernon’s product life cycle theory stresses that a corporation can begin to export its product and later war foreign direct investment because the product moves through its life cycle. Eventually a country’s export becomes its import.


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