Global Trade: An Introduction to the History, Theory and Political Issues

11 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2010

Date Written: November 14, 2010


The long history of trade is one of intercultural contact, competing theoretical paradigms, and controversy over the place of trade in national economic development strategies. Any theory of trade is necessarily a narrative about competition and the ways that humans have sought to exploit weaknesses in rivals, ameliorate the advantages of competitors and use the rewards gained by trade to realize the ambitions of elites. However, the dominant intellectual tradition that goes back as far as Adam Smith and David Ricardo holds that at least in theory, trade can benefit all parties involved if it is organized on a transparent and equitable basis. Controversies over what constitutes advantage and disadvantage in the governance of trade highlight the challenges that beset the global trading system today. The WTO remains mired in age old problems that arise when the strong bargain with the weak, and new problems that beset a governance system operating within a complex and incomplete system of international law.

Keywords: trade, mercantilism, WTO, trade theory, poverty, inequality

JEL Classification: B10, F10, N10, P10

Suggested Citation

Froese, Marc D., Global Trade: An Introduction to the History, Theory and Political Issues (November 14, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Marc D. Froese (Contact Author)

Burman University ( email )

6730 University Drive
Lacombe, Alberta T4L 2E5

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