international trade(redirected from External trade)
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international tradethe sale or exchange of goods and services between countries. According to the law of comparative advantage, proposed by the 19th-century political economist Ricardo, a country will ideally produce only those goods and services in the production of which it possesses such advantage that it can produce these more cheaply than other producers. In theory at least, therefore, the international division of labour that results should benefit all nations. However, the extent to which each country benefits depends on the favourableness or otherwise of the TERMS OF TRADE which operate for the commodities and services which it imports and exports. Thus, in recent years many developing nations have experienced adverse and often worsening terms of trade, especially as a result of declining relative prices for food and agricultural raw materials in situations where, in the short run at least, they are unable to shift their output to other areas of production. See DEPENDENCY THEORY, UNEQUAL EXCHANGE, IMPERIALISM.
the aggregate of the foreign trade of the different countries of the world. International trade arose with the birth of the world market (16th to 18th centuries) and the international division of labor. The development of international trade is closely bound up with the establishment of the capitalist method of production.