3.1 Global Trade in the United States
- Why is global trade important to the United States, and how is it measured?
International trade improves relations with friends and allies, eases tensions among nations, helps bolster economies, raises people’s standard of living, and improves the quality of life. The United States is still the largest importer and exporter in the world. We export a fifth of our industrial production and about a third of our farm crops.
Two concepts important to global trade are the balance of trade (the difference in value between a country’s exports and its imports over some period) and the balance of payments (the difference between a country’s total payments to other countries and its total receipts from other countries). The United States now has both a negative balance of trade and a negative balance of payments. Another important concept is the exchange rate, which is the price of one country’s currency in terms of another country’s currency. Currencies float up and down based upon the supply of and demand for each currency. Sometimes a government steps in and devalues its currency relative to the currencies of other countries.
3.2 Why Nations Trade
- Why do nations trade?
Nations trade because they gain by doing so. The principle of comparative advantage states that each country should specialize in the goods it can produce most readily and cheaply and trade them for those that other countries can produce most readily and cheaply. The result is more goods at lower prices than if each country produced by itself everything it needed. Free trade allows trade among nations without government restrictions.
3.3 Barriers to Trade
- What are the barriers to international trade?
The three major barriers to international trade are natural barriers, such as distance and language; tariff barriers, or taxes on imported goods; and nontariff barriers. The nontariff barriers to trade include import quotas, embargoes, buy-national regulations, and exchange controls. The main argument against tariffs is that they discourage free trade and keep the principle of comparative advantage from working efficiently. The main argument for using tariffs is that they help protect domestic companies, industries, and workers.
3.4 Fostering Global Trade
- How do governments and institutions foster world trade?
The World Trade Organization, established by the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations, has dramatically lowered trade barriers worldwide. For the first time, a trade agreement covers services, intellectual property rights, and exchange controls. The World Bank makes loans to developing nations to help build infrastructures. The International Monetary Fund makes loans to member nations that cannot meet their budgetary expenses. Despite efforts to expand trade, terrorism can have a negative impact on trade growth.
3.5 International Economic Communities
- What are international economic communities?
International economic communities reduce trade barriers among themselves while often establishing common tariffs and other trade barriers toward nonmember countries. The best-known economic communities are the European Union, NAFTA, CAFTA, and Mercosur.
3.6 Participating in the Global Marketplace
- How do companies enter the global marketplace?
There are a number of ways to enter the global market. The major ones are exporting, licensing, contract manufacturing, joint ventures, and direct investment.
3.7 Threats and Opportunities in the Global Marketplace
- What threats and opportunities exist in the global marketplace?
Domestic firms entering the international arena need to consider the politics, economies, and culture of the countries where they plan to do business. For example, government trade policies can be loose or restrictive, countries can be nationalistic, and governments can change. In the area of culture, many products fail because companies don’t understand the culture of the country where they are trying to sell their products. Some developing countries also lack an economic infrastructure, which often makes it very difficult to conduct business.
3.8 The Impact of Multinational Corporations
- What are the advantages of multinational corporations?
Multinational corporations have several advantages. First, they can sidestep restrictive trade and licensing restrictions because they frequently have headquarters in more than one country. Multinationals can also move their operations from one country to the next depending on which location offers more favorable economic conditions. In addition, multinationals can tap into a vast source of technological expertise by drawing upon the knowledge of a global workforce.
3.9 Trends in Global Competition
- What are the trends in the global marketplace?
Global business activity will continue to escalate due to several factors. Firms that desire a larger customer base or need additional resources will continue to seek opportunities outside their country’s borders. China and India are emerging as global economic powerhouses.