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The Benefits of Free trade The long-standing US policy of supporting multilateral trade liberalization is consistent with well-established conclusions from economic reasoning and empirical evidence about the benefits of trade to all participating countries Benefits from Increased Exports and Imports The most-direct economic benefits from international trade arise from the fact that countries are not all the same in their production capabilities They vary from one another because of differences in natural resources levels of education of their workforces relative amounts and qualities of physical capital technical knowledge and so on Without trade each country must make everything it needs including things it is not very efficient at producing When trade is allowed by contrast each country can concentrate its efforts on what it does best relative to other countries and export some of its output in exchange for imports of products it is less good at producing As countries do that total world output increases World output may also grow because of greater use of economies of scale as a factory in one country can serve a market the size of two or more countries rather than one Trade can benefit countries economies in a number of other ways as well such as by expanding the variety of goods available to businesses and consumers by increasing competition and thereby reducing the extent of monopolistic pricing and the inefficiency that results from it and possibly by pushing up the rate of productivity growth Market forces generally ensure that all countries involved in the trade share in the benefits from the increased output Irrelevance of the Balance of Trade The growth in trade that results from lowered trade barriers is generally beneficial regardless of its effects on the balance of trade the difference between the values of exports and imports Some people believe that trade agreements are beneficial to the extent that they increase exports and harmful to the extent that they
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