International trade influences a whole range of activities including jobs, consumption, and the fight against poverty. It also affects the environment and relations among countries. In turn, trade is shaped by a host of influences ranging from natural resources to fashion. Trade-related issues can give rise to strong feelings, and trade measures such as banning or limiting imports are often called for to respond to major economic problems. An understanding of the benefits and downsides of trade, and of what trade policy can and cannot achieve, will help us to form our own opinions on debates about international trade.
Part of the OECD Insights series, International Trade: Free, Fair, and Open? is aimed at nonspecialists, presenting the different issues clearly and concisely, using concrete examples from around the world. Comprehensive references are provided for those wishing to study the subject in greater depth.