Monday, September 30, 2013

Global Trade as a lever for growth and employment

Opinion article by: Nathalia Rios Ballesteros* (
Economics student at Universidad EAFIT, Colombia

According to the European Commission (2010) in the past few years, global trade has expanded rapidly. From the late 1990s until now, the value of world merchandise trade grew by 73%. This growth has been mainly driven by growth in incomes and demand, falling in transport and communication costs, significant increases in foreign direct investment (FDI) in emerging market economies, improvements in efficient economic policies along with the implementation of trade policies and reductions in tariff and non-tariff barriers without ignoring the increasing competitive pressures that drive the search and pace of innovation and the implementation of costcutting, outsourcing and economies of scale in many industries.
In this context, although it is difficult to make general statements about the impact of trade opening and its growth per se; trade should not be considered in isolation from national, international and global realities. In this sense, one can establish that “trade growth is not pursued for its own sake”[1]; it brings along a triple major benefit for the ongoing country: more economic growth; greater consumer welfare translated into higher incomes and lower prices of goods and increased in employment conditions – greater and better-paid jobs-.
As a matter of fact, U.S is the world's largest economy and the largest exporter and importer of goods and services nowadays, which implies an active and relevant role of trade as an important engine for its economic growth and employment market -considering that more than 30 percent of U.S. GDP is tied to international trade and investment, and more than one in five U.S. jobs are supported by trade according to the Trade Benefits America Coalition (2013)-. This is the reason why U.S. engagement in the international marketplace today, is more important to this nation’s economy than ever before, exhibiting and showing the key role that trade plays in the economic current situation of countries worldwide.
Moreover, trade openness stands as an important lever that lift developing countries out of poverty allowing them to reap and reproduce the benefits of globalization into their own economies, taking into account the strong increase in the share of this economies in the international trade flow . This rapid economic rise and increasing involvement in global trade of these emerging market economies -especially major performers such as the BRIC members- has made enormous contributions to growth, development and prosperity within these economies. As part of a comprehensive set of policies and internal circumstances, it has helped to lift millions out of poverty and spread the benefits of higher living standards through lower living costs. It has brought nations closer together, fostering mutual understanding and promoting world peace while equipping the involved countries with the necessary tools to meet the challenges carried along with the hazard of this economic activity; challenges towards jobless growth management, high unemployment, poverty, unequal distribution and allocation of resources, environment and sustainable development, and the role of trade routes as well as investment decisions in this context.
For all the above, and considering today’s climate of “weak economic recovery, high unemployment and pressure on public finances”[2], one of the effective solutions that governments might adopt to boost growth and employment could be to foster global trade thus keeping global markets open; which provides two important implications; a result and a challenge for the involved country. The result: better economic performance -trade and market openness becomes a more prevailing tool for generating better quality jobs and boosting the much-needed growth-; the challenge: to construct coherent national and international policy frameworks that seek and drive towards inclusive growth of trade among countries because “it is their design, not their absence, that makes the difference”[3].


European Commission. (2010). Trade as a driver of prosperity. Recuperado el 20 de 09 de 2013, de

OECD Trade and Agriculture Directorate (TAD). (Mayo de 2012). Better policies for better lives. Recuperado el 17 de Septiembre de 2013, de

Trade benefits America Coalition. (2013). Trade benefits America|. Recuperado el 20 de 09 de 2013, de

World Trade Organization (WTO). (2013). The Future of Trade: The Challenges of Convergence. Report of the Panel on Defining the Future of Trade.

[1] European Commission (2010)
[2] (OECD Trade and Agriculture Directorate (TAD), 2012)
[3] (World Trade Organization (WTO), 2013)

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