gains from trade

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.

Capital Gain

In real estate and investments, the difference between the purchase price and the sale price when the sale price is more. That is, when an investor buys a security or real estate and sells it for a higher price, he/she incurs a capital gain. Capital gains in the United States are taxed at a lower rate than other income if the asset is held for longer than one year. One may use capital losses to offset capital gains to minimize one's liability for capital gains taxes; indeed, some investors do so deliberately. See also: Paper gain.
Gains from tradeclick for a larger image
Fig. 79 Gains from trade. (a) The physical output of commodity X and commodity Y from a given factor input.

(b) Production and consumption possibilities with and without trade (internal exchange rates are 1X/1Y in A, 1X/3Y in B, and the international exchange rate 1X/2Y).

gains from trade

the extra production and consumption benefits that countries can achieve through INTERNATIONAL TRADE. Countries trade with one another basically for the same reasons as individuals, firms and regions engaged in the exchange of goods and services - to obtain the benefits of SPECIALIZATION. By exchanging some of its own products for those of other nations, a country can enjoy a much wider range of commodities and obtain them more cheaply than would otherwise be the case. International division of labour, with each country specializing in the production of only some of the commodities that it is capable of producing, enables total world output to be increased and raises countries’ real standards of living.

A country's choice of which commodities to specialize in will be determined in large measure by the advantages it possesses over others in the production of these things. Such advantages can arise because the country can produce particular commodities more efficiently, at lower cost, than can others. The static, or ‘pure’, theory of international trade emphasizes that opportunities for mutually beneficial trade occur as the result of differences in comparative costs or COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGE. Countries will gain from trade if each country EXPORTS those commodities in which its costs of production are comparatively lower and IMPORTS commodities in which its costs are comparatively higher.

This proposition is demonstrated in Fig. 79 (a) for a simple two-country (A and B) and two-product (X and Y) world economy. The same given resource input in both countries enables them to produce either the quantity of X or the quantity of Y. In the absence of trade between the two, X and Y exchange in country A is in the ratio IX/IY, and, in country B, in the ratio IX/3Y These exchange ratios indicate the marginal OPPORTUNITY COST of one commodity in terms of the other. Thus, in country A the opportunity cost of producing one more unit of X is IY

It can be seen that country B is absolutely more efficient than country A in the production ofY and just as efficient in the production of X. However, it is comparative advantage, not ABSOLUTE ADVANTAGE, that determines whether trade is advantageous or not. Country B's comparative advantage is greater in the production of commodity Y, of which it can produce three times as much as country A. Alternatively, we can say that country B's relative efficiency is greater in producing commodity Y because the resource or opportunity cost of producing an additional unit of Y is one-third of one unit of X in country B but IX in country A. Country A, by concentrating on the commodity it can produce with least relative inefficiency, has a comparative advantage in the production of X; i.e. the resource or opportunity cost of producing an additional unit of X in country A is only 1Y, while in country B it is 3Y. Thus, in terms of real factor costs, commodity X can be produced more cheaply in country A, and commodity Y can be produced more cheaply in country B.

This combination of comparative advantages opens up the possibility of mutually beneficial trade. Domestically in country A, 1X can be exchanged for 1Y, but abroad it can be exchanged for anything up to 3 Y Trade will be advantageous to it if it can obtain more than 1Y for 1X. Domestically, in country B, 1Y can be exchanged for one-third of 1X, but abroad it can be exchanged for anything up to 1X. It will be to B's advantage if it can obtain, through trade, more than one-third of X for 1Y .

The limits to mutually beneficial trade are set by the opportunity-cost ratios. Within these limits, specialization and trade on the basis of comparative advantage will enable both countries to attain higher consumption levels. This possibility is indicated in Fig. 79 (b), assuming the exchange ratio to be 1X = 2Y Using its entire resources, country B can produce 600Y, of which it consumes, say 400 and exports 200. Country A can produce 200X, of which it consumes 100 and exports 100. With trade, the 200Y can be exchanged for 100X, enabling country B to consume 400Y and 100X, and country A to consume 200Y and 100X. Without trade, country B can transform (at an internal exchange ratio of 1X/3Y) 200Y into only 662/3X, while country A can transform (at an internal exchange ratio of 1X/1Y) 100X into only 100Y. Thus both countries gain by specialization and trade. How the gain is shared between countries A and B depends essentially upon the strength of demand in the two countries for the goods they import. If country A's demand for commodity Y increases, the trading ratio of IX to 2Y would be likely to move against country A. Thus it might require 21/2Y exports to obtain IX imports, pushing country B nearer to the limit to mutually beneficial trade.

Obviously, in a more complex multicountry, multiproduct ‘real’ world situation it is less easy to be categorical about who gains from international trade and by how much. Some countries may possess a comparative advantage in a large number of products; others may possess few such advantages - countries differ in the quantity and quality of their factor endowments and are at different stages of ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. DEVELOPING COUNTRIES, in particular, may find themselves at a disadvantage in international trade, especially those that are over-reliant on a narrow range of volatile commodity exports.

References in periodicals archive ?
This exercise helps students see that gains from trade are real and can be measured.
The Trade Game (TG) is a classroom exercise that illustrates the concept of gains from trade.
England's gains from trade as a proportion of its labor force are therefore RS/OF.
Illustrating his theory by means of Figures 2 and 3, he shows that the concave production function for wheat does double duty, first by quantifying the gains from trade in terms of the labor England would save if it were to liberalize the import of wheat by repealing the Corn Laws.
Barone's 1908 representation of an economy's trade equilibrium and the gains from trade.
As is shown further on, Ricardo's approach to comparative advantage and the gains from trade diverges appreciably from that found in textbook chapters on the "Ricardian trade model," with their linear production-possibility curves, community indifference curves (sometimes supplemented by offer curves), and full specialization in both trading countries.
Consider half-a-dozen aspects of reality that go beyond the traditional set-up and how they affect the estimated gains from trade or levers for unlocking them.
Achievable gains from trade liberalization may provide an increment of up to several percentage points of global gross domestic product (GDP).
Others have attempted to vindicate Smith's theory of the gains from trade, arguing that the vent for surplus is meant to apply only to underdeveloped economies (Myint 1958, 1977; Staley 1973) or where goods are produced jointly (Kurz 1992).
This formulation, combined with an understanding of Smith's rhetoric, shows that Smith's theory of the gains from trade is completely compatible with his system of natural liberty and suggests a more coherent theory of the gains from trade than is typically attributed to Smith.
Smith's treatment of the gains from trade is, almost without exception, thought to consist of two separate arguments.
It is possible that defenders and critics alike have, as Bloomfield (1975) suggests, attempted to read too much into Smith's vent-for-surplus gains from trade, hanging on every word and mark of punctuation looking for a definitive clue as to what Smith could possibly have meant.