Main content

### Course: Macroeconomics > Unit 1

Lesson 3: Comparative advantage and the gains from trade- Comparative advantage, specialization, and gains from trade
- Comparative advantage and absolute advantage
- Opportunity cost and comparative advantage using an output table
- Terms of trade and the gains from trade
- Input approach to determining comparative advantage
- When there aren't gains from trade
- Comparative advantage worked example
- Lesson summary: Comparative advantage and gains from trade
- Comparative advantage and the gains from trade

© 2024 Khan AcademyTerms of usePrivacy PolicyCookie Notice

# Terms of trade and the gains from trade

In this video, we explore how we can use opportunity costs to determine who has comparative advantage in producing a good. By specializing in the production of a good that a country has comparative advantage in, and trading for the other good, both countries have the potential to benefit from the exchange. We can also figure out a trading price (also known as the "terms of trade") which would make both countries willing to trade.

## Want to join the conversation?

- For A can produce: 1 pant=0.5 shirt(aka. o.c. of pants) So A wants to trade 1 pant for more shirts.

For B can produce: 1 pant=1.5 shirt(aka. o.c. of pants). So B wants to have the same amount of shirt(1.5 shirt) for less than 1 pant.

So to sell, I want the price higher than the o.c. of what I am selling.

To buy, I want the price lower than the o.c. of what I am buying.(16 votes)- I get it now!if I want to sell, I will sell at a price more than i would have spent producing the good.

If I want to buy, I will need the price to be lower than what i would have spent if i produced it my own.

Don't know if I make sense.(23 votes)

- what's the difference between PPC and PPF? they seem quite the same to me(8 votes)
- In these videos, the terms have been used interchangeably.(15 votes)

- so you can only calculate O.C. if it is constant right? Or how would you calculate OC if it were increasing/decreasing?(5 votes)
- You can only calculate OC for an entire curve if it is constant. However, you
**can**calculate OC if a PPC is increasing or decreasing, but you have to calculate it for each point on the curve. You can do this by:

* calculating the slope of a line tangent to that point

* estimate it by calculating the local tradeoffs (i.e., go to the next nearest point on the PPC and use that to calculate tradeoffs).(11 votes)

- I also do not get how at9:07country A benefits by simply going to a range beyond PPF. Their absolute advantage on the pants significantly decreased trying to go to a point out of PPF. Does this mean a country benefits when they reach to a level out of the PPF even if the maximum production on one product significantly decreases?(8 votes)
- Given the information in video we know that price P for pants must be in the interval: (0.5 shoes for 1 pant, 1.5 shoes for one pant).

Does anybody know some kind of theory of finding the most optimal price for both countries. Does this price even exist?(6 votes) - At7:00,Sal says country A will be willing to sell at price greater than the opportunity cost. Why would they do that? Wouldn't it be less beneficial if the opportunity cost goes up? Why do they not sell at the price lower than their opportunity cost so the comparative advantage will increase?(2 votes)
- I believe the idea is that country A/business A would be willing to trade/sell at a price greater than their opportunity cost so they would make a "profit". In other words if it costs a company $3 to make a widget, they will be willing to sell the widget for some amount more than their cost of $3 so they will make a profit.(8 votes)

- Hi everyone! I was wondering what was really meant by the part:

"Pants : A willing to 'sell'pants at 'price'> 1/2s

B willing to 'buy' pants < 1.5s'

From what I've understood, this means that country A can sell pants at a price higher than it's opportunity cost (to make a profit) whilst country B is willing to buy pants from country A for a lower price than its opportunity cost (to make less of a deficit)?(3 votes)- Yes, your understanding is correct. The part "Pants: A willing to 'sell' pants at 'price' > 1/2s; B willing to 'buy' pants < 1.5s" means that Country A is willing to trade (sell) pants at a price that is higher than its opportunity cost of producing pants, which is 1/2 a shirt. This allows Country A to gain from the trade. On the other hand, Country B is willing to acquire (buy) pants at a price that is less than its own opportunity cost of producing pants, which is 1.5 shirts, allowing Country B to also benefit from the trade by saving resources compared to producing pants themselves.(2 votes)

- Why can't I replay a video once I already watched it? It would really help me during revision if you could fix this problem.(1 vote)
- There's a replay button next to the little speaker icon. Click it and that should allow you to replay.(6 votes)

- well, in this video, sal has done calculations in terms of pants P. how would the trade look like when calculated in terms of shirts S instead?(3 votes)
- I did try applying the same idea in terms of pants; however country A seemed to not benefit from the trade when country B sells 5 shirts (for example). Here are some calculations.

<Market for Shirts>

B is willing to sell shirts to A for 0.7 pants or higher

A is willing to buy shirts from B for 2 pants or lower.

The price would be between 0.7<x<2. The median is 1.35.

Thus, B sells 1 shirt for 1.35 pants to A.

Correct me if I am wrong please.(1 vote)

- what's the difference between PPC and PPF?(1 vote)
- There isn't any difference. They're just a different name for the same thing.(5 votes)

## Video transcript

- [Instructor] Let's
imagine a very simple world, as we tend to do in economics, that has two countries that
are each capable of producing either pants or shirts,
or some combination. And so what we have here are the production possibility curves for each of those countries, and this is in per worker per day. So, for example, in country
A, per worker per day, they could, if they put all
of their energy into pants, they could produce 20. If they put all of their
energy into shirts, they could produce 10. Or there could be some combination that would sit on this line. Now, to help us digest the
production possibility curves for these two countries, let me construct an output table. So this will be, this column will be the
output for country A. This column will be the
output for country B. And we're gonna think about
the maximum number of pants, maximum pants, the maximum output of
pants per worker per day. The input is the worker per day. And then let's think about
the maximum number of shirts. So pause this video, and see
if you can fill this out. What are the max pants and shirts in country A and country B? Well, in country A, I
already talked about it, the maximum pants is 20, 20 pants. And then the maximum shirts, if they didn't make any pants, are 10. And in country B, the maximum pants are 30, and the maximum shirts, it
looks like that is about 45. Now, from either of these
production possibility curves or from this output table, because we have a
constant opportunity cost, these production possibility curves are straight lines with a fixed slope, we can calculate the opportunity costs. So let's do that next. So this is country A, and then this is country B. And let me calculate the
opportunity cost of pants, and let's calculate the
opportunity cost of shirts. So pause this video, and see
if you can figure that out. What are the opportunity
costs of pants and shirts in countries A and B? And fill out this table. Well, one way to think about it, in country A, I could put
all of my energy into pants and produce 20 pants, or I could put all of
my energy into shirts and produce 10 shirts. 10 shirts, s for shirts, p for pants. And so if I want the cost of pants, I could just divide both sides by 20, and I would get pants, the amount of energy per pant is equal to, well, 10 divided by 20 is 1/2 a shirt. So the energy for pant is 1/2 for, is the same as the energy for 1/2 a shirt. And so we could say the opportunity cost of producing a pant is 1/2 a shirt. If we want the opportunity
cost for shirts, we could take the
reciprocal of this number. We could say it's going
to be two over one pant. Or we could start with this
equation right over here, and instead of solving for
p, we could solve for s. How much energy, in terms of pants, does it take for us to produce one shirt? So if you divide both sides
of this equation by 10, you would get, you would get two p is equal to s. Or another way of thinking about it, the energy to create one shirt is equal to the energy
to create two pants. So the opportunity cost of
producing a shirt is two pants. With that same energy of the shirt, you could produce two pants. Now, let's also fill it out for country B. And if you haven't done so already, try to use the same method to fill this, the opportunity costs for
pants and shirts for country B. Well, in country B, I could
put all of my energy into pants and produce 30 pants or all of my energy into
shirts and produce 45 shirts. So the opportunity cost per pant, if I divide both sides by 30, it'd be 45 over 30,
which would be equal to, they're both divisible by 15, 3/2 of a shirt. The energy for one pair of pants is the same as the
energy for 1 1/2 shirts, I guess I could say. So let me write it that way. So the opportunity cost of pants is, for each pair, I'm giving up 1 1/2 shirts. And then, in the
opportunity cost for shirts, well, I could just solve for s here. If I divide both sides by 45, I get the same energy for
one shirt would be 30/45 of a pair of pants, which is the same thing
as 2/3 of a pair of pants. And so I could write that
as 2/3 of a pair of pants, or, if I want, oh, let me
just write it that way, 2/3 of a pair of pants. So given the opportunity costs, what should each of
these countries focus on? Pause this video, and
try to figure that out. Well, let's first compare their
opportunity costs in pants. So let's first compare their
opportunity cost in pants. It is clear that country A
has a lower opportunity cost for producing a pair of pants. It's only giving up 1/2 a shirt while country B is giving up 1 1/2 shirts. So country A has the comparative
advantage right over here, so comparative advantage, right over here, in pants. And so it should focus all of its energy, according to the theory
of comparative advantage, it should focus all of
its energy on pants. And likewise, if we look at, so here we compared this to this, and likewise, if we try to look at shirts, right over here, if we look at their opportunity cost, country B is only giving
up 2/3 of a pair of pants while country A would be
giving up two pairs of pants. So country B has the
lower opportunity cost or the comparative advantage in shirts. So country B should put all
of their focus here on shirts. Now, I know what you might be thinking. People can't just walk
around wearing only shirts. People might get cold below their waist. Or people don't want to only wear pants. They might get cold above their waist. And so how can people in these countries get the other type of garment? Well, the obvious answer is,
if they focus in this way, they can trade. And what would be an
acceptable trading price, let's say, for pants? Let's focus on pants for a second. So if we're thinking about
the market for pants, so if you're country A, what would you be
willing to sell pants for in terms of shirts? Well, a good price, so to speak, would be something higher
than your opportunity cost. So A willing to sell, sell pants at price, I'll put that in quotes
'cause we're really thinking of price in terms of another good, at price greater than
their opportunity cost, greater than 1/2 of a shirt. And you could think of this
willing to trade or sell. I'll put that in quotes. They're really trading
in our everyday language, right over here. And likewise, what about country B? Well, B willing to buy pants, they need pants, otherwise they
would just be walking around with only shirts on, willing to buy pants at a price, at a price less than their
opportunity cost for pants. And so that would be less than 1.5 of a shirt. So what would be a price that
is greater than 1/2 a shirt and less than 1 1/2 of a shirt? And really any price in between
these two values would work. Well, a nice round number is, well, they could trade at one
pair of pants for one shirt. So a clearing price, a price that would work could be one p, one pants, for one shirt. And now, let's appreciate
the gains from trade that they would both have here. So let's imagine this
world where country A is producing 20 pants per worker per day. But let's say they decide that they want, instead of those 20 pants, they would want to trade
15 of them away for shirts. And so they would get, at this price, they would get 15 shirts. So they're gonna give up 15 pants. They're giving up 15 pants, so they'll only have five
pants right over here. But they're going to get 15 shirts. So they're gonna get 15 shirts. And they're going to end right over here. This is where country
A is going to end up. And what's cool about this is we've gone beyond the
production possibilities curve. So you see, very clearly,
the gain from trade. Country A could not have gotten
to this point on its own. This is above the production
possibilities curve. Likewise, country B was over here, with 45 shirts. It gave up 15 of those shirts. It now has 30 shirts. But it now has 15 pants. At least some of the people in the country are going to be able to wear pants now. So it now has 15 pants. Once again, it, too, is in a point beyond its production possibilities curve. It would not have been able
to get here without the trade. So they are both better off. So the key thing, the key
takeaway from this video is we now appreciate why
comparative advantage is valuable, once again, making all the assumptions for these simplified economic models, because we can calculate
out opportunity cost from that comparative advantage. And then we could think
about what's a good price that they'd be willing to trade at and see that when they trade, they both are able to get beyond their production possibilities curve.