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World Trade Report 2010

Trade in Natural Resources

image of World Trade Report 2010

The World Trade Report 2010 focuses on trade in natural resources, such as fuels, forestry, mining and fisheries. The Report examines the characteristics of trade in natural resources, the policy choices available to governments and the role of international cooperation, particularly of the WTO, in the proper management of trade in this sector. A key question is to what extent countries gain from open trade in natural resources. Some of the issues examined in the Report include the role of trade in providing access to natural resources, the effects of international trade on the sustainability of natural resources, the environmental impact of resources trade, the so-called natural resources curse, and resource price volatility. The Report examines a range of key measures employed in natural resource sectors, such as export taxes, tariffs and subsidies, and provides information on their current use. It analyzes in detail the effects of these policy tools on an economy and on its trading partners. Finally, the Report provides an overview of how natural resources fit within the legal framework of the WTO and discusses other international agreements that regulate trade in natural resources. A number of challenges are addressed, including the regulation of export policy, the treatment of subsidies, trade facilitation, and the relationship between WTO rules and other international agreements.

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Natural resources: Definitions, trade patterns and globalization

This section provides a broad overview of the role that trade in natural resources plays in the global economy. It begins with a discussion of definitions and terminology, focusing on key features that distinguish natural resources from other types of traded goods. These features include the exhaustibility of natural resources, the uneven geographical distribution of resource endowments, the presence of externalities in the spillover effects of extraction and use of natural resources, the dominance of the natural resources sector in many national economies, and the high degree of price volatility in this class of goods. A variety of statistical data related to natural resources are presented in order to illustrate the magnitude and direction of global trade flows.

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