International trade is the exchange of goods and services between countries. This type of trade gives rise to a world economy, in which prices, or supply and demand, affect and are affected by global events. A decrease in the cost of labor, on the other hand, would result in you having to pay less for your new shoes.

Trading globally gives consumers and countries the opportunity to be exposed to goods and services not available in their own countries. Almost every kind of product can be found on the international market: food, clothes, spare parts, oil, jewelry, wine, stocks, currencies and water. Services are also traded: tourism, banking, consulting and transportation. A product that is sold to the global market is an export, and a product that is bought from the global market is an import. Imports and exports are accounted for in a country’s current account in the balance of payments.


Global trade allows wealthy countries to use their resources – whether labor, technology or capital – more efficiently. Because countries are endowed with different assets and natural resources (land, labor, capital and technology), some countries may produce the same good more efficiently and therefore sell it more cheaply than other countries. If a country cannot efficiently produce an item, it can obtain the item by trading with another country that can. This is known as specialization in international trade.


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