For a human geographer, straight out of 18 months in the field in the South Pacific, to be asked to comment on papers by Gottfried Haberler and Bertil Ohlin is a somewhat awesome experience. I comment mainly on Haberler’s contribution in what follows, since Ohlin’s remarks are themselves to some degree a commentary on the symposium as a whole. I expected to comment on a paper concerning the historical evolution of the international allocation of economic activity since about 1800, but I find that Haberler has instead provided us with an elegant survey of theory, classical and modern, which is — as Ohlin remarks — masterly in its simplicity. However, it concerns a world largely innocent of tariffs, bilateral trade agreements, multinational corporations, O.P.E.C., U.N.C.T.A.D., C.O.M.E.C.O.N., the E.E.C., and so on. Ohlin does introduce these complications, and very effectively, but he leaves open to some degree the central argument posed by Haberler who concludes, at page 12, that: ‘Competitive general equilibrium theory is useful or even indispensable as an ideal type which enables us better to visualise, evaluate and measure aberrations from the ideal conditions which abound in the real world’.


Local Stimulant Interregional Trade Fertile Island International Trade Theory International Allocation 
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  1. Brookfield, H., Interdependent Development. London: Methuen, (1975). Friedmann, J., Regional Development Policy: A Case Study of Venezuela. (Cambridge, Mass., M.I.T. Press, 1966.)Google Scholar

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© The Nobel Foundation 1977

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  • Harold Brookfield

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