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Does International Trade Cause Economic Growth? A Survey

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  • Tarlok Singh

Abstract

This study surveys the literature on the relationship between international trade and economic growth, and succinctly reviews the role of GATT/WTO in fostering free trade. Most studies support the gains of trade and recognise the substantive contributions of GATT/WTO in fostering free trade; the evidence is, however, not ubiquitously unambiguous. The macroeconomic evidence provides a dominant support for the positive and significant effects of trade on output and growth, while the microeconomic evidence lends larger support to the exogenous effects of productivity on trade, as compared to the effects of trade on productivity. The GATT/WTO remains surrounded by barriers to trade and avowed preferences for preferential trade agreements. The strength of the argument for the gains of trade needs to be evaluated in juxtaposition with several methodological and measurement issues that surround the trade-growth empirics. Most studies focus on partial equilibrium analysis of trade policy and ignore the general equilibrium aspects of macroeconomic policy. It is difficult to disentangle the effects of trade policies from those of other macroeconomic policies and unequivocally interpret the observed correlations between trade policies and economic growth. Trade is one of the several catalysts of productivity and growth and hence its contribution is contingent on its weight in economic activity.

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  • Tarlok Singh, 2010. "Does International Trade Cause Economic Growth? A Survey," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(11), pages 1517-1564, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:worlde:v:33:y:2010:i:11:p:1517-1564
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/j.1467-9701.2010.01243.x
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