Edexcel A Level Economics A:复习笔记4.1.4 Terms of Trade

The Terms of Trade

  • Terms of trade refer to the ratio of a country’s average price of exports to the country’s average price of imports
  • The relative price of imports & exports can have a direct bearing on the standard of living within a country
    • Exporting goods which are highly priced results in higher incomes & the ability to buy cheaper imports
    • The terms of trade capture the relationship between the average prices of a country's exports & imports

Calculation of The Terms of Trade

  • The index for exports & imports is created in much the same way that a consumer price index is created (using a weighted basket of imports & exports)

Worked Example

Calculate the terms of trade for Country X. State if the terms of trade have improved or worsened. In the final column explain what that means for country X

 

Year  Index of average export prices Index of average import prices Calculation of terms of trade Terms of trade Improvement or deterioration? Explanation
2012 100 100
2013 100 107
2014 112 108
2015 115 110

 

Step 1: Identify the index year as this is the base year & complete calculations for the index year

   The index year will be the year in which both the index for export & import prices is 100

Year  Index of average export prices Index of average import prices Calculation of terms of trade Terms of trade Improvement or deterioration? Explanation
2012 100 100 100 Base year Both export & import index = 100
2013 100 107
2014 112 107
2015 115 110

   Step 2: Calculate the terms of trade for each year & state if they have improved/deteriorated

Year  Index of average export prices Index of average import prices Calculation of terms of trade Terms of trade Improvement or deterioration? Explanation
2012 100 100 100 Base year Both export & import index = 100
2013 100 107 93.45 Deterioration
2014 112 107 104.67 Improvement
2015 115 110 104.55 Deterioration

 

Step 3: Explain what the improvement or deterioration means (explanation)

Year  Index of average export prices Index of average import prices Calculation of terms of trade Terms of trade Improvement or deterioration? Explanation
2012 100 100 100 Base year Both export & import index = 100
2013 100 107 93.45 Deterioration One unit of exports buys fewer imports compared to the previous year
2014 112 107 104.67 Improvement One unit of exports buys more imports compared to the previous year
2015 115 110 104.55 Deterioration One unit of exports buys fewer imports compared to the previous year

 

Factors Influencing a Country's Terms of Trade

  1. Relative inflation rates: Inflation increases the price of goods/services within a country. This means that their price is now more expensive to the rest of the world. If the exports are price inelastic in demand this will improve the terms of trade, if elastic then it is likely to worsen the terms of trade
  2. Relative productivity rates: continuous improvements in productivity can lower costs & these can be passed on in the form of lower prices. Lower prices for export products will mean that the terms of trade will deteriorate i.e. fewer imports can be bought with one unit of exports
  3. Changes in exchange rates: exchange rates constantly change the price of exports & imports. If prices change then the terms of trade between the two countries change. Specific data would need to be provided in order to determine if the terms of trade have improved or deteriorated for each trading partner

Impact of Changes in the Terms of Trade

  • Depending on the contribution that net exports make to GDP, changes to the terms of trade can have far reaching impacts on an economy. These include
    • Changes to the current account balance in the Balance of Payments
    • Changes to national output (GDP)
    • Changes to unemployment levels
    • Changes to the level of international competitiveness
    • Changes to disposable income
    • Changes to standards of living
  • The impact of changes to the terms of trade are more complex than assuming that an improvement in the terms of trade is good & a deterioration is bad
    • E.g. Improvement in terms of trade → one unit exports buys more imports → standard of living improves
      • However, it depends on what caused the improvement & on the price elasticity of demand for exports & imports
      • If the improvement was caused by an increase in the price of exports, then following the law of demand fewer exports will be consumed by foreigners. How much fewer depends on the PED for exports. This could worsen the standard of living

 

PED & Changes To the Terms of Trade

Condition (ToT) Cause PED Value Likely outcome
Improvement Price of exports rises If PED of exports is inelastic then the reduction in quantity demanded will be less than the increase in price & the economy will benefit  

  • Output increases
  • Unemployment decreases
  • Standard of living improves
Improvement Price of imports falls If PED of imports is elastic (necessity) then the increase in quantity demanded will be more than the decrease in price & the economy will spend more on imports  

  • More disposable income
  • Standard of living improves
  • Domestic output may fall as foreign consumption increases
Deterioration Price of exports falls If PED of exports is elastic then the increase in quantity demanded will be more than the decrease in price & the economy will benefit  

  • Output increases
  • Unemployment decreases
  • Standard of living improves
Deterioration Price of imports falls If PED of imports is inelastic then the increase in quantity demanded will be less than the decrease in price  

  • Domestic output unlikely to fall
  • Imports will increase slightly
  • More disposable income so better standard of living

 

 

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