HM Treasury

International issues

International Trade

19 May 2004

Trade and the Global Economy: the role of international trade in productivity, economic reform and growth

International trade has been a major driver of global growth and prosperity over the last fifty years. Barriers to trade have fallen significantly over the last half-century, but some products, particularly in agriculture and labour-intensive sectors, remain subject to high levels of protection. A substantial reduction in barriers to trade in agriculture and manufactured goods could boost global income by over $ 500 billion a year. However, doubts about the advantages of greater openness to trade are putting these benefits at risk. International trade remains a subject of intense debate among policy-makers and the wider public. While expanding export markets are widely accepted as beneficial, increases in imports can be seen as threatening, replacing domestic production with goods and services from abroad. At a global level, progress on a new multilateral trade round has thus far been slow.

This paper aims to show why continuing reductions in trade barriers is important for the UK, for Europe and the rest of the industrialised world, and for developing countries where trade has the potential to make a significant contribution to poverty reduction.

"Trade and the Global Economy: the role of international trade in productivity, economic reform and growth" is available below in Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF). If you do not have Adobe Acrobat installed on your computer you can download the software free of charge from the Adobe website. For alternative ways to read PDF documents and further information on website accessibility visit the HM Treasury accessibility page.

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