Material Type:
Community College / Lower Division, College / Upper Division
Ohio Open Ed Collaborative
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International Trade: Course Map & Recommended Resources


International trade is included in this course as an optional topic. While this might usually be covered in a principles of microeconomics course, it has been included here for review purposes, or in the event that students have not previously taken microeconomics. Please note that some of the learning objectives may overlap with the unit on Tradeoffs.


Learning Objectives

  1. Identify arguments for and against free trade (14,15,16)
  2. Explain the difference between comparative and absolute advantage (1, 15)

  3. Identify government policies that can affect trade (15)

  4. Analyze the impact of trade restrictions with the supply/demand model (15,16)

  5. Identify the sources of comparative advantage (15)

  6. Explain reasons for trends in global trade over time. (15,16)

NOTE: This Module meets Ohio TAG's 1, 14, 15 & 16 for an Intro to Macroeconomics Course

Recommended Textbook Resources

Resource One:

Principles of Macroeconomics 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jun 4, 2018, Chapter 20: 475-496

Important Notes for the instructor regarding this chapter:

Chapter 20 provides the basic explanation of comparative advantage. Section 20.3 focuses on intra-industry trade, and could easily be skipped in a beginning macro course. This chapter covers LO2 in 20.1.

Introduction to International Trade

Absolute and Comparative Advantage

What Happens When a Country Has an Absolute Advantage in All Goods

The Benefits of Reducing Barriers to International Trade

Chapter 20: Key Terms

Chapter 20: Key Concepts and Summary

Chapter 20: Self Check Questions

Chapter 20: Review Questions

Chapter 20: Critical Thinking Questions

Chapter 20: Problems

Resource Two:

Principles of Macroeconomics 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jun 4, 2018, Chapter 21: 497-524

Important Notes for the instructor regarding this chapter:

Chapter 21 might go beyond a typical macro course. It focuses on arguments for and against free trade, and details trade policy. This chapter covers LO1 in 21.3, LO3-4 in 21.1, and LO6 in 21.2 and 21.4. LO5 is not explicitly covered in either open source text.

Introduction to Globalization and Protectionism

Protectionism: An Indirect Subsidy from Consumers to Producers

International Trade and Its Effects on Jobs, Wages, and Working Conditions

Arguments in Support of Restricting Imports

How Governments Enact Trade Policy: Globally, Regionally, and Nationally

The Tradeoffs of Trade Policy

Chapter 21: Key Terms

Chapter 21: Self Check Questions

Chapter 21: Review Questions

Chapter 21: Critical Thinking Questions

Chapter 21: Problems

Supplemental Content/Alternative Resources

The following link contains a youtube link to a parody song on free trade: Banana Free Trade Parody


For a full text on international trade, see: International Trade: Theory and Policy by Steve Suranovic, Saylor Foundation,



For comparative advantage, this chapter provides additional coverage:


For U.S. trade data, students can be directed to explore this: U.S. trade data


Topic Exercise

To familiarize students with trade data, the following link provides an excellent tool for trade data visualization: Trade Data Visualization

This data set is freely available from the World Trade Organization. Instructions on how to use the data set are here: How To:


Students can create visuals by country, by product, by regions, using graphs, word clouds, grids, and networks. One suggested exercise is to assign students a country. For this country, they should determine the top 5 import partners, top 5 export partners, top 5 imported products, and top 5 exported products for their country. They will then present this information visually. This could be a single project, or could be part of a larger small group country presentation.


Active Learning Exercise

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) presents a trade game called Trading Around the World. This game allows students to pick which trader they want to be. They are then given products that they have to offer and a starting dollar amount. They then can choose to either sell their products or buy products from other regions. They will receive bids for buying and for selling, and can counter the bids. They are presented with various stages of the global economy. They face issues such as lack of trade agreements, or countries with no currency to purchase the product. The goal is to acquire as much as possible with the resources that they have. Students play individually, but this could be turned into a small group activity. Additionally, students could compete based on various parameters.


The link is here: IMF Trading Around the World