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Chapter 2: Absolute Advantage An Introduction to International Economics: New Perspectives on the World Economy © Kenneth A. Reinert, Cambridge University Press 2012
Absolute Advantage: Analytical Elements Countries Sectors Factors of production © Kenneth A. Reinert, Cambridge University Press 2012
Introduction By using the supply and demand diagram this chapter makes a first step in helping you to answer these questions Why does a country export a particular good? Why does it import a particular good? What forces are behind the expansion of world trade that is occurring in the world economy? Absolute advantage Possibility that, due to differences in supply conditions, one country can produce a product at a lower price than another country © Kenneth A. Reinert, Cambridge University Press 2012
Figure 2.1. A Domestic Rice Market © Kenneth A. Reinert, Cambridge University Press 2012
Supply and Demand in a Domestic Market Throughout the world, rice is exchanged in markets Supply curve is upward slopingfirms supply more rice to the market as the price increases Changes in price are represented in the diagram by movements along the supply curvechanges in quantity supplied Reductions in input prices and improvements in technology shift the supply curve to the right Increases in input prices and technology setbacks shift the supply curve to the left Known as changes in supply © Kenneth A. Reinert, Cambridge University Press 2012
Supply and Demand in a Domestic Market Demand curve is downward slopingconsumers demand less rice from market as price increases Changes in price are represented by movements along the demand curvechanges in quantity demanded Additional demand-side factors Incomes and preferences Increases shift demand curve to right Decreases shift demand curve to left Shifts are known as changes in demand © Kenneth A. Reinert, Cambridge University Press 2012
Supply and Demand in a Domestic Market Intersection of supply and demand curves determines the equilibrium in the domestic rice market Any shifts will change equilibrium price and quantity for rice by shifting the demand or supply curves. Rice markets are international Cannot analyze them effectively using Figure 2.1 © Kenneth A. Reinert, Cambridge University Press 2012
Absolute Advantage Rice is produced in both Vietnam and Japan Assume demand conditions are exactly the same in both countries Implies demand curves for rice in the two countries are exactly the same Trade often arises due to differences in supply conditions Assume supply curve for Vietnam is farther to the right than supply curve for Japan At every price Vietnam supplies more rice than Japan Perhaps Vietnam uses superior technology or production inputs are lower in Vietnam © Kenneth A. Reinert, Cambridge University Press 2012
Figure 2.2. Demand for Rice in Vietnam and Japan © Kenneth A. Reinert, Cambridge University Press 2012
Figure 2.3. Absolute Advantage in the Rice Market © Kenneth A. Reinert, Cambridge University Press 2012
Autarky Price Since no trade is involved between Vietnam and Japan These two prices are known in international economics as autarky prices Autarky is a situation in which a country has no economic relationships with other countries Figure 2.3 depicts a situation in which autarky price of rice is lower in Vietnam than in Japan Vietnam has an absolute advantage in the production of rice vis-à-vis Japan © Kenneth A. Reinert, Cambridge University Press 2012
International Trade Absolute advantage implies a potential pattern of trade If the two countries forgo autarky and begin to trade World price of rice will lie somewhere between the two autarky prices, or P V < P W < P J This situation is depicted in Figure 2.4 © Kenneth A. Reinert, Cambridge University Press 2012
Figure 2.4. Trade in the Rice Market © Kenneth A. Reinert, Cambridge University Press 2012
Figure 2.5. A Schematic View of Absolute Advantage © Kenneth A. Reinert, Cambridge University Press 2012
A Question What ensures that the amount exported by Vietnam is the same as the amount imported by Japan? If E V were smaller than Z J there would be excess demand or a shortage in world market for rice Excess demand causes price to rise As P W rose, exports of Vietnam would expand and imports of Japan would contract until excess demand in world market disappeared Similarly, if E V were larger than Z J, P W would fall to bring world market back into equilibrium © Kenneth A. Reinert, Cambridge University Press 2012
Summary So Far Differences in supply conditions among countries rise to complementary patterns of absolute advantage These patterns of absolute advantage make possible complementary patterns of international trade © Kenneth A. Reinert, Cambridge University Press 2012
Gains from Trade Given a pattern of absolute advantage, it is possible for a country to give up autarky in favor of importing or exporting Japan can import rice, and Vietnam can export rice But should a country actually do this? © Kenneth A. Reinert, Cambridge University Press 2012
Figure 2.6. Gains from Trade in the Rice Market © Kenneth A. Reinert, Cambridge University Press 2012
Gains from Trade in Vietnam When Vietnam moved from autarky to exporting in the rice market Producers experience both an increase in price and an increase in quantity supplied along the supply curve Should be good for producers Figure 2.6 shows an increase in producer surplus of area A+B as a result of the movement from autarky to trade Consumers experience an increase in price and a decrease in quantity demanded along the demand curve Should harm consumers Figure 2.6 shows a decrease in consumer surplus of area A © Kenneth A. Reinert, Cambridge University Press 2012
Gains from Trade in Vietnam What do these effects mean for Vietnam? Producers have gained area A+B Consumers have lost area A Gain to producers exceeds loss to consumers For economy as a whole there is a net welfare increase of area B Vietnam gains from its entry into world economy as an exporter © Kenneth A. Reinert, Cambridge University Press 2012
Gains from Trade in Japan When Japan moved from autarky to importing in the rice market Producers experience a decrease in price and a decrease in quantity supplied along the supply curve Should harm these producers You can see in Figure 2.6 that there has been a decrease in producer surplus of area C Consumers experience a decrease in price and an increase in quantity demanded Contribute to an increase in consumer surplus of area C + D © Kenneth A. Reinert, Cambridge University Press 2012
Gains from Trade in Japan What do these effects mean for Japan? Consumers have gained C+D Producers have lost area C The gain to consumers exceeds the loss to producers For the economy as a whole, then, there is a net welfare increase of area D Japan gains from its entry into the world economy as an importer © Kenneth A. Reinert, Cambridge University Press 2012
Gains from Trade Moving from autarky to either importing or exporting involves a net increase in welfare for the country involved Known as gains from trade Many popular writings on the world economy suggest trade relationships are a win-lose proposition for the countries involved The gains from trade idea, however, tells us that trade can be mutually beneficial to countries involved © Kenneth A. Reinert, Cambridge University Press 2012
Limitations Trade can improve overall welfare for the countries involved Concept has its limits Suggests the possibility that a country could not have an absolute advantage in anything, and would have nothing to export at all This is unlikely © Kenneth A. Reinert, Cambridge University Press 2012
Limitations The notion of the gains from trade also has its limits Suggests that countries as a whole mutually gain from trade Does not suggest, however, that everyone within a country will gain from trade Producers of rice in Japan lose from trade, and consumers of rice in Vietnam lose from trade © Kenneth A. Reinert, Cambridge University Press 2012
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