Updating Our Conception of Trade Leadership
Albert Fishlow and Patrick J. DeSouza
Global trade has grown sixteenfold since 1950, far outstripping the growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The period since the end of World War II has seen the largest expansion of international exchange of goods and services ever, even outstripping the period before World War I. Indeed, since 1970, the United States has more than doubled the ratio of trade to national product, realizing a greater increase than any of the other industrial countries. By contrast, over the same time, Germany increased its trade by 24 percent and France by 43 percent; for Japan, the comparable value is negative 17 percent.
More than even the growth of global financial flows, the growth of global trade has come to symbolize the triumph of capitalism at the end of the twentieth century as the defining economic and political ideology. This freer exchange of goods and services across borders is not only based on the premise of limited government but also reliance on private response to market signals.