Dilemmas of International Trade

Dilemmas of International Trade

Dilemmas of International Trade

Dilemmas of International Trade


Three central dilemmas are explained in this book - the unequal distribution of income and wealth created by international trade, the tradeoff among competing values that trade requires, and the relationship between economic and foreign policy goals.


This book has two missions. The first is to explain the fundamental dilemmas that surround international trade and trade policy issues. How we respond to these trade dilemmas will not only shape our economy but also determine the kind of society in which we will live. Too often, trade is treated purely as an economic phenomenon that is--or ought to be--divorced from politics. In fact, because the political and the economic components of international trade are intertwined, neither can be understood without the other. I examine the dilemmas of trade in the context of several contemporary controversies, especially the Japanese-U.S. trade relationship, the Asian financial crisis, the European Union (EU), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The second mission is to introduce the basic principles of international political economy by examining how politics and economics interact to shape trade policies. To provide historical and theoretical perspective, I discuss nineteenth-century British trade policy and the evolution of the international economic system from the Bretton Woods institutions of the post-World War II era to the "Battle of Seattle" over the contemporary WTO. To demonstrate the enduring relevance of these basic principles and fundamental dilemmas, I also discuss their role in shaping recent proposals to revise the architecture of global economic institutions and to rethink the trade policy advice given to developing nations.


Whenever people purchase products made abroad, they unknowingly act in accord with one set of interests, values, and theories concerning international trade but in discord with another set. The decision by a firm to market its goods abroad also carries implications beyond its immediate . . .

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