International Trade as Diplomacy

  • Geoffrey Allen Pigman
Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)


International trade is no longer just about buyers and sellers, shipping and marketing, firms and distributors. Nor is it only about customs officials and border inspections, tariffs and quotas, export subsidies and import licences. Over the past three millennia, international trade has moved from being a series of infrequent journeys to meet unknown peoples, to exchange the familiar for the exotic for the benefit of rulers and elites, to being today a primary driver of global economic growth. International trade as a percentage of world economic output has increased from around two percent in the early nineteenth century to nearly 35 percent in the year 2000.1 Trade today is an inescapable, indispensable component of a global economy that enables the world’s billions to work, earn a living, and consume and invest the fruits of their labours. Without international trade, there can be no global economic prosperity. The dramatic increase in trade relative to overall global economic activity is a metaphor for the increasing necessity for people across the world to engage with one another: to deal with each other’s differences and to do business with one another. Alongside this great rise in international trade has been a parallel increase in another fundamental and essential human activity: diplomacy.


International Trade World Trade Organization North American Free Trade Agreement Multilateral Trade Dispute Settlement Mechanism 
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Copyright information

© Geoffrey Allen Pigman 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoffrey Allen Pigman
    • 1
  1. 1.University of PretoriaSouth Africa

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