International Trade

Course Description

An intensive examination of modern theories of international commercial policy and the international trade system. Developments in trade theory, and restrictions of international trade are discussed.

Course Objectives

The course will enable students to gain an understanding of how the international economy works and how economic theory can be used to understand issues of public policy, the impact of trade on economic development, and the impact of trade restrictions.

Course Materials


The course will mainly follow the textbook “International Economics: A Heterodox Approach” by Hendrik Van den Berg (3rd edition), 2017, Routledge. The required readings from this textbook are listed below.

The textbook is available from amazon and bookdepository.

You will find a study guide for the textbook here.

Sometimes it is helpful to have access to an alternative textbook that explains the material in a different way. For this purpose I recommend: Robert J. Carbaugh, International Economics (15th edition), 2014, Cengage.

An additional study guide for (only) the orthodox models that includes solved problems is:
Salvatore, Schaum’s Outline of International Economics, 4th Edition, 1995, McGrawHill.
Available from amazon and bookdepository

Course Requirements:

Students must read the corresponding chapters of the textbook before each session. Reading the economic and political press will also be helpful.

Course Prerequisites:

Students need to have passed principles of microeconomics and principles of macroeconomics before enrolling in this course.

Instructor Information:

Prof. Dr. Dennis A. V. Dittrich

You can always contact me via email. For meetings in my office appointments can be arranged through the my webpage at:

Updated information, links to the literature, additional materials, etc. can be found on my webpage as well.

Grading Guidelines:

Grading Component Weight
Quizzes 30%
Problem Sets 70%

(Class) participation (at the level of an “A”) requires that you attend class regularly and always contribute to the discussion by raising thoughtful questions, analyzing relevant issues, building on other’s ideas, synthesizing across readings and discussions, expanding the class perspective, and appropriately challenging assumptions and perspectives. You help your fellow students. Contributing in the aforementioned ways only (“B”) sometimes, (“C”) rarely, or (“D”) never diminishes not only your own but your fellow students learning opportunities.

In case you were excused from the midterm exam, the make-up exam for the missed midterm will be administered with the final exam.

You are allowed to bring a dictionary and pocket calculator to all exams. For the final exam only, you are allowed to bring a single-sided page DIN A4 with hand-written notes.


A typical 3 credit course requires 150 hours of your time. The table below identifies how I expect those 150 hours will be allocated. While you do not receive direct marks for reading, reading will affect your class participation mark (your ability to participate in class discussions and activities) and your final exam mark. While some weeks have more readings than others, you should be able to read the required reading in an average of 2 hours per week.

Activity Time
Class Time (3 hours / week) 45 hours
Reading (3 hours / week) 45 hours
Review and Homework (4 hours / week) 60 hours

Topics and Reading Assignments

Session 1

Session 2

  • International Trade Theory (Ch. 3)

    The Economist, 6.8.2016, An inconvenient iota of truth
    The Economist, 29.09.2016, Coming and going
    The Economist, 1.10.2016, An open and shut case
    Rodrik, D., 2008. Stolper-Samuelson for the real world.

Session 3

Session 4

  • Imperfect Competition & Transnational Corporations (Ch. 5)

    The Economist, 29.09.2016, A lapse in concentration
    The Economist, 13.02.2020, The new coronavirus could have a lasting impact on global supply chains

Session 5

  • International Trade & Economic Development (Ch. 6)

Session 6

  • International Trade, Human Happiness, and Unequal Economic Development (Ch. 7)

Session 7

  • Tariffs, Quotas, and Trade Restrictions (Ch. 8)

    The Economist, 1.10.2016, Hard bargain
    The Economist, 29.9.2016, Needed but not wanted
    The Economist, 13.2.2020, American drinkers of European wine face mounting tariff bills

Session 8

  • History of Trade Policy (Ch. 9)

    The Economist, 2.4.2016, Open Argument
    The Economist, 2.4.2016, Trade, at what price?

Session 9

  • International Trade Policy: A Holistic Perspective (Ch. 10)

    Jacobs, J., 1985. Cities and the wealth of nations: Principles of economic life. Vintage.
    Mintz, S.W., 1986. Sweetness and power: The place of sugar in modern history. Penguin.
    The Economist, 1.10.2016, The reset button

Session 10

  • Immigration (Ch. 18)
  • Immigration Policy (Ch. 19)

Session 11

Topics and reading assignments are subject to changes.


You are allowed to hand in the solution to the problem sets jointly in groups of up to two students. Every member of the group should be able to explain their solution if asked to do so, otherwise no member of the group will be credited for the solution.

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