Global Policy Forum

International Trade and Development

Picture Credit: John Hogg/World Bank

Capitalist economic theory holds that a completely liberalized global market is the most efficient way to foster growth, because each country specializes in producing the goods and services in which it has a comparative advantage. Yet, in practice, cutting trade barriers and opening markets do not necessarily generate development. Rich countries and large corporations dominate the global marketplace and create very unequal relations of power and information. As a result, trade is inherently unequal and poor countries seldom experience rising well-being but increasing unemployment, poverty, and income inequality.

An additional problem is that free trade is not equally free. Agricultural subsidies and other trade barriers in the US and the EU prevent poor countries from gaining access to the most important markets. Meanwhile, poor countries open up their own markets to US and EU exports. Critics of free trade point out that many of the world's richest countries sheltered their economies by protection when they were at the start of their own growth. Further, trade is so dominated by transnational corporations that new trade rules mainly benefit those companies. A number of NGOs have started to promote "fair trade," arguing that trade can promote development if it is environmentally sustainable and includes respect for human and labor rights. This page provides information on trade issues, including how to make trade contribute to development.

General Analysis on International Trade and Development

This page provides articles, documents and reports on international trade and development.

International Trade Agreements

This page provides information on international trade agreements such as NAFTA and their impact on development.

Multilateral Agreement on Investment and Related Initiatives

This page follows the MAI and other related initiatives on international investment.

UNCTAD: The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

This page provides a collection of articles on UNCTAD, a forum for alternative strategies on trade and development.

Agricultural Subsidies

This page provides articles and papers on agricultural subsidies and how they obstruct development.

Globalization of the Economy

This page analyzes economic globalization, and examines how it might be resisted or regulated in order to promote sustainable development.

The World Trade Organization

This page provides information on the World Trade Organization.

Transnational Corporations

This section explores how TNCs dominate the global economy and exert their influence over global policymaking, including the increasing influence of corporations at the UN.



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