With the help of modern production techniques, highly advanced transportation systems, transnational corporations, outsourcing of manufacturing and services, and rapid industrialization, the international trade system is growing and spreading very fast.
International trade among different countries is not a new a concept. History suggests that in the past there where several instances of international trade. Traders used to transport silk, and spices through the Silk Route in the 14th and 15th century. In the 1700s fast sailing ships called Clippers, with special crew, used to transport tea from China, and spices from Dutch East Indies to different European countries.
The economic, political, and social significance of international trade has been theorized in the Industrial Age. The rise in the international trade is essential for the growth of globalization. The restrictions to international trade would limit the nations to the services and goods produced within its territories, and they would lose out on the valuable revenue from the global trade.
The benefits of international trade have been the major drivers of growth for the last half of the 20th century. Nations with strong international trade have become prosperous and have the power to control the world economy. The global trade can become one of the major contributors to the reduction of poverty.
David Ricardo, a classical economist, in his principle of comparative advantage explained how trade can benefit all parties such as individuals, companies, and countries involved in it, as long as goods are produced with different relative costs. The net benefits from such activity are called gains from trade. This is one of the most important concepts in international trade.
Adam Smith, another classical economist, with the use of principle of absolute advantage demonstrated that a country could benefit from trade, if it has the least absolute cost of production of goods, i.e. per unit input yields a higher volume of output.
According to the principle of comparative advantage, benefits of trade are dependent on the opportunity cost of production. The opportunity cost of production of goods is the amount of production of one good reduced, to increase production of another good by one unit. A country with no absolute advantage in any product, i.e. the country is not the most competent producer for any goods, can still be benefited from focusing on export of goods for which it has the least opportunity cost of production.