International trade is integral to the process of globalization. Over many years, governments in most countries have increasingly opened their economies to international trade, whether through the multilateral trading system, increased regional cooperation or as part of domestic reform programmes. Trade and globalization more generally have brought enormous benefits to many countries and citizens. Trade has allowed nations to benefit from specialization and economies to produce at a more efficient scale. It has raised productivity, supported the spread of knowledge and new technologies, and enriched the range of choices available to consumers. But deeper integration into the world economy has not always proved popular, nor have the benefits of trade and globalization necessarily reached all sections of society.
Trade scepticism is on the rise in certain quarters, and the purpose of this year’s core topic of the World Trade
Report, entitled “Trade in a Globalizing World”, is to remind ourselves of what we know about the gains from international trade and the challenges arising from higher levels of integration.