Archive for the 'Trading blocs' Category

Feb 21 2013

Obama’s proposed trade deal – Good for America, Good for Europe – so who are the losers?

In his state of the Union address last week, US president Obama shared his plan for a “transatlantic trade and investment partnership”. The proposed agreement would eliminate tariffs and take other steps to promote free trade of goods and services traded between the United States and the 27 European Union nations.

While tariffs on most goods are already very low (rarely higher than 3% according to the Economist)there still exist several non-tariff barriers to trade between world’s two largest economies.  These barriers to trade include policies such as:

  • The “buy American” provision that many US congressmen support for government spending
  • Subsidies to farmers in both the US and the EU
  • Subsidies to the world’s two largest airplane manufacturers, Boeing and Airbuss
  • Protection of “geographically unique brands” such as Champagne and Roquefort cheese (which reduces competition in the US market for these European products)
  • Different standards and regulations in the two economies over health and safety requirements for foreign produced products such as pharmaceuticals and food, vehicles, information flows, and so on.

Truly free trade between nations requires not only the removal of protective tariffs, but also the dismantling of subsidies for domestic producers as well as non-tariff barriers to trade such as strict rules and regulations of imported products.

If the US and Europe succeed in forming a new free trade agreement, the benefits could be substantial for both economies:

Trade in goods and services between the two economic giants amounts to nearly $1 trillion each year, and total bilateral investment between them to nearly $4 trillion. Getting rid of remaining tariffs could raise Europe’s GDP by around 0.4% and America’s by a percentage point. Ditching even half of today’s non-tariff barriers could boost GDP in both places by 3%.

A single TTIP test for new drugs would be a massive boon for pharmaceutical firms. Agreed standards for electric cars would create a vast market, as well as huge demand for accompanying infrastructure. Think how Amazon and Google could gain from looser rules on cross-border flows of information in Europe. And think how Europe’s austerity-blighted economies could gain from more demand from abroad.

The gains from trade are many. However, the arguments against free trade often prevent these benefits for many from being enjoyed to protect the interests of a few. One question to consider when looking at the likely outcome of any new free trade agreement is whether it will lead to trade creation or trade diversion. One nation that may have reason to be concerned about a new trade agreement between the US and the EU is Switzerland, which is not part of the EU. If a new agreement creates new trade and increases the flow of goods and services between the US and the EU, it may be the case that this comes at the cost of of reduced trade between the US, the EU and Switzerland.

The Swiss, not being part of either major economy, would maintain its own rules, regulations tariffs and subsidies that affect trade with the other two economies. It may, therefore, be the victim of increased trade between the other two economies, while trade is diverted away from the Swiss economy as Americans buy more EU-produced goods and Europe buys more American produced goods. If this results, it may put pressure on the Swiss to reduce or remove many of their own trade barriers so as to prevent losing demand from the US and EU.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How do non-tariff barriers to trade such as subsidies and health and safety regulations reduce the flow of goods between nations?
  2. The article mentions that “Europe’s austerity-blighted economies could gain from more demand from abroad.” Interpret this statement. Do you think free trade could provide relief to the debt-ridden countries in the Eurozone?
  3. Why should Switzerland be worried about a new free trade agreement between the US and the Eurozone.

 

No responses yet

Feb 21 2013

Degrees of Economic Integration – IB student research project

Using chapter 24 in the textbook Pearson Baccalaureate’s Economics for the IB Diploma, you and your group are to prepare a short Google Presentation outlining the characteristics of, examples of and effectiveness of one of the types of trading blocs that countries may form to promote trade.

Instructions: 

  1. Sit with your group at a table. One person must log into their school Google Apps account and create a new Presentation. Share this presentation with the other group members.
  2. While the first person is creating the Presentation, the rest of the group should start reading (as a group) the section of chapter 24 on your assigned trading bloc.
  3. Once the group has read the correct section, begin working on #1 below. Summarize in large font the main characteristics of your assigned topic. Try to do this in no more than two slides.
  4.  Next, follow the link in #2 below and read about the suggested example. On one or two slides in your presentation, summarize the history and impact the trading bloc has had on member states.
  5. Finally, as a group, read pages 517-520 and then discuss with your partners the effectiveness of your assigned trading bloc at promoting the benefits of free trade discussed earlier in the course. Summarize your evaluation of your assigned trading block on one or two slides in your presentation.

Once your Google Presentation is finished (it should be between 4 and 8 slides), go to “File: Publish to the Web…”, select “start publishing” then copy the link to your presentation. In a comment on this post, include your group’s assigned topic, group member names, and the link to your presentation.

You have one period to complete this assignment. If it is not done by the end of class, please complete your presentation for homework and make sure the link is posted in the comment section before your next class!

Group 1: Preferential trade agreements (PTA)

  1. Define and identify the characteristics
  2. Research and summarize the history of a Preferential trade agreement: Latin American Integration Association (LAIA)
  3. Based on what you’ve learned, evaluate the effectiveness of a PTA at promoting the benefits of free trade  discussed earlier in this course (must read pages 517-520)

Group 2: Free trade agreement (FTA)

  1. Define and identify the characteristics
  2. Research and summarize the history of a free trade agreementSouth Asian Free Trade Area
  3. Based on what you’ve learned, evaluate the effectiveness of an FTA at promoting the benefits of free trade  discussed earlier in this course (must read pages 517-520)

Group 3: Customs Union and Common Market

  1. Define and identify the characteristics. Distinguish between a customs union and a common market.
  2. Research and summarize the history of a customs union/common market: Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR)
  3. Based on what you’ve learned, evaluate the effectiveness of custom unions and common markets at promoting the benefits of free trade  discussed earlier in this course (must read pages 517-520)

Group 4: Monetary unions and complete economic integration

  1. Define and identify the characteristics. Distinguish between a monetary union and complete economic integration.
  2. Research and summarize the history of a monetary union: The Eurozone
  3. Based on what you’ve learned, evaluate the effectiveness of monetary unions and complete economic integration at promoting the benefits of free trade discussed earlier in this course (must read pages 517-520)

Share your findings: Once each group has put together a short Google Presentation with their findings, we will get into four new groups for the last part of class (one representative from each of the above groups represented) and share our presentations.

7 responses so far

Nov 06 2008

Trading blocs and economic integration – IB student case studies

A trading bloc is “a group of countries that join together in some form of agreement in order to increase trade between themselves and/or to gain economic benefits from cooperation on some level.”

Below is a list of some of the regional trading blocs. The assignment is to:

  • Identify the nations involved in your assigned trading bloc
  • Identify the kind of trading bloc (customs union, free trade area, common market, monetary union)
  • Discuss the impact that membership in the trading bloc has had on the economy of one member nation

Research your assigned trading bloc, prepare a short summary of the points above, and post your findings as a comment below.

  • Pacific Regional Trade Agreement (PARTA or PIF) – Christina, Myrthe and Manka
  • European Economic Area (EEA) – Lisa and Pia, Lis and Livia
  • Caribbean Community (CARICOM) – Catherine and Sean, Maddie
  • Union of South American Nations (Unasur/Unasul) – Eithan and Wilhelm, Alex and Gorka
  • East African Community (EAC) – Miguel and Ross, Nick and Dierdre
  • Southern African Customs Union (SACU) – Horia,
  • Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA) – Calvin, Magda and Robin
  • North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – Nic
  • Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Matteo, Sebastian and Moritz
  • Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) – Meri and Natasha
  • African Economic Community (AEC) – Palmi and Celine

22 responses so far