What Is International Trade Theory?

Read this introduction to mercantilism and the difference between classical country-based theories and modern firm-based theories. What is the historical significance of mercantilism for international trade patterns?

2.1 What Is International Trade Theory?

Global Strategic Rivalry Theory

Global strategic rivalry theory emerged in the 1980s and was based on the work of economists Paul Krugman and Kelvin Lancaster. Their theory focused on MNCs and their efforts to gain a competitive advantage against other global firms in their industry. Firms will encounter global competition in their industries and in order to prosper, they must develop competitive advantages. The critical ways that firms can obtain a sustainable competitive advantage are called the barriers to entry for that industry. The barriers to entry refer to the obstacles a new firm may face when trying to enter into an industry or new market. The barriers to entry that corporations may seek to optimize include:

  • research and development,
  • the ownership of intellectual property rights,
  • economies of scale,
  • unique business processes or methods as well as extensive experience in the industry, and
  • the control of resources or favorable access to raw materials.