Sources of Comparative Advantage

As already noted, British classical economists merely accepted the actual fact that productivity variations exist between countries;

they created no united plan to make a case for that commodity a rustic would export or import.

Throughout the twentieth century, international economists offered a variety of theories in an attempt to clarify why countries have variations in productivity, the issue that determines comparative advantage and therefore the pattern of international trade.

Natural resources

First, countries will have a plus as a result of their richly endued with selected natural resources. for instance, countries with plentiful oil resources will typically turn out oil inexpensively.

as a result of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia produces oil terribly cheaply, it holds a comparative advantage in oil, and it exports oil so as to finance its purchases of imports.Sources of Comparative Advantage

Similarly, countries with giant forests typically square measure the most important exporters of wood, paper, and paper merchandise. the availability on the market for export additionally depends on domestic demand.

North American country has giant quantities of lumber on the market for export to the u. s., not solely owing to its giant areas of the forest however additionally as a result of its tiny population consumes very little of the availability, departure a lot of the lumber on the market for export.

Climate is an Associate in Nursingother natural resources that has an export advantage. Thus, for instance, bananas square measure exported by Central Yankee countries—not Iceland or European nations.

Factor endowments: the Heckscher-Ohlin theory

Simply put, countries with plentiful natural resources can typically have a comparative advantage in merchandise victimisation of those resources.

A related, however far more delicate, the assertion was implied by 2 Swedish economists, Eli Heckscher and Bertil Ohlin. Ohlin’s work was engineered upon that of Heckscher. In recognition of his concepts as delineated in his path-breaking book, Interregional and International Trade (1933), Ohlin was a recipient of the Nobel prize for social science in 1977. Sources of Comparative Advantage

The Heckscher-Ohlin theory focuses on the 2 most significant factors of production, labour and capital. Some countries square measure comparatively well-endowed with capital; the everyday employee has lots of machinery and instrumentality to help with the work.

In such countries, wage rates typically square measure high; as a result, the prices of manufacturing labor-intensive goods—such as textiles, sports equipment, and straightforward shopper electronics—tend to be dearer than in countries with plentiful labour and low wage rates.


On the opposite hand, merchandise requiring a lot of capital and solely touch labour (automobiles and chemicals, for instance) tend to be comparatively cheap in countries with plentiful and low-cost capital.

Thus, countries with plethoric capital ought to typically be able to turn out capital-intensive merchandise comparatively inexpensively, commercialising them so as to get imports of labour-intensive merchandise.

In the Heckscher-Ohlin theory, it’s not absolutely the quantity of capital that’s important; rather, it’s the quantity of capital per employee.

A little country like Luxembourg has a lot less capital in total than Bharat, however, Luxembourg has additional capital per employee. consequently, the Heckscher-Ohlin theory predicts that Luxembourg can export capital-intensive merchandise to Bharat and import labour-intensive merchandise reciprocally.

Despite its believability, the Heckscher-Ohlin theory is often discordant with the particular patterns of international trade. As evidence of what countries truly export and import, it’s a lot less correct than the additional obvious and easy natural resources theory.

One early study of the Heckscher-Ohlin theory was applied by an economist, a Russian-born U.S. economist. Leontief discovered that u. s. was comparatively well-endowed with capital. per the speculation, therefore, u. s. ought to export capital-intensive merchandise and import labour-intensive ones.

Sources of Comparative Advantage

He found that the other was if truth be told the case: U.S. exports square measure typically additional labour intensive than the sort of merchandise that u. s. imports. as a result of his findings were the other of these expected by the speculation, they’re called the Leontief contradiction.

Economies of large-scale production

Even if countries have quite similar climates and issue endowments, they will still realize it advantageous to trade. Indeed, economically similar countries usually stick with it as an oversized and thriving trade. The prosperous industrialised countries became one another’s best customers. The main reason for this case lies in what’s known as the economies of large-scale production (see the economy of scale).

For many merchandises, there square measure blessings in manufacturing on an oversized scale; prices become lower as additional is made. Thus, for example, vehicles will be created additional cheaply in a very plant manufacturing a hundred,000 units than in a very tiny plant manufacturing only one,000 units.

This suggests that countries have Associate in Nursing incentives to specialise in order to cut back prices. To sell an oversized volume of output, they will have to be compelled to look to export markets.

The smaller the country, and therefore the additional restricted its domestic market, the additional incentive it to appear to international trade as the simplest way of gaining the benefits of large-scale production.

Thus, Luxembourg or Belgium has far more to achieve, relatively, than the u. s. Indeed, the benefits of large-scale production were one of the most important sources of gain from the institution of the EU Economic Community (EEC; ultimately replaced by the EU Union), which was fashioned with the aim of providing trade between most western European countries.

Sources of Comparative Advantage

Even an oversized country like u. s., however, will gain in some cases by commercialism so as to take advantage of the economies of production lines. for instance, the Boeing Company has been able to turn out aeroplanes additional expeditiously and cheaply as a result of its ability to sell giant numbers of craft to different countries. The commerce countries additionally gain as a result of they’ll purchase craft abroad at costs way below they’d get domestically made equivalents.


Technological development may offer a particular trade advantage. The comparatively advanced countries—particularly us, Japan, and people of western Europe—have been the principal exporters of high-technology products like computers and exactitude machinery.

One necessary side of technology is that it will modify quickly. this can be maybe most blatant within the laptop field, wherever productivity has increased and prices have fallen sharply since the first Nineteen Sixties (see Moore’s law). Such speedy changes gift many challenges.

For countries that don’t seem to be within the front rank, it raises the question of whether or not they ought to import high-technology products or conceive to enter the circle of the foremost advanced nations.

For the countries that have controlled the technological lead in the past, there’s continually the likelihood that they’ll be overtaken by newcomers.

This occurred within the last half of the twentieth century once Japan advanced technologically in its automobile production to the purpose wherever it might challenge the car leadership of North America and Europe.

Japan quickly became the world’s foremost producer of vehicles, and, by the first twenty-first century, Korean automakers were following the Japanese example with the aggressive export of vehicles.

Sources of Comparative Advantage

Technological advances additionally strengthen international trade in a general sense: e-commerce (electronic commerce), as an example, reduces the impact of geographic distance by facilitating quick, efficient, period-of-time ties between businesses and people around the world.

Indeed, at the top of the twentieth century, info technology, associate trade that scarcely existed twenty years earlier, exceeded the combined world trade in agriculture, vehicles, and textiles.

The product cycle    

The unfolding of technology across national boundaries implies that comparative advantage will modification. the foremost technologically advanced countries typically have the advantage in creating a new product, however as time passes different countries could gain the advantage. as an example, several tv sets were made within us throughout the Nineteen Fifties.

As time passed, however, and technological modification within the tv trade became less speedy, there was less advantage in manufacturing sets within us. Producers of tv sets had an associate incentive to appear in different locations, with lower wage rates. In time, the makers established overseas operations in Taiwan, Hong Kong, et al.

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