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Title: Rethinking growth through trade : a two-tiered capabilities approach
Author: Martin, Sabrina
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2019
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Trade has been a concern of global justice theorists since Charles Beitz prominently cited it as a fundamental cause of global inequalities in his seminal 1979 book Political Theory and International Relations. Yet it is only recently that theorists are beginning to address trade in and of itself. Following David Miller, I define trade as "a practice that involves the voluntary exchange of commodities or services for mutual advantage. That means, self-evidently, that both trading partners expect to be better off as a result of their exchange." Ultimately, the problem is, that despite this definition of trade, it does not always benefit both partners or at the very least benefit them to the full (expected) potential of the exchange. That is, trade, quite problematically, does not fulfill its normative potential; it is not doing what it was designed to do. This thesis proposes and develops a normative theory of justice in international trade. Thus, it falls both within the fields of political theory and normative or welfare economics. Like other theorists of trade justice, I too seek to answer the question "what does it mean for trade to be fair?" Yet unlike other theorists of trade justice, I am not looking for a theory of specifically distributive justice within trade, instead I take inspiration from an older conception of justice, one where something must fulfill its function in order to be considered just. The normative economic aspect, then, becomes important because the 'mutual advantage' that countries gain from trade must be benefiting economically in some way. Namely, they must be benefitting in terms of growth and/or development. After demonstrating that this is a reasonable interpretation of a function of international trade, I propose that this idea of growth and/or development is best understood in terms of what I call a 'Two-Tiered Capabilities Approach' focusing specifically on country-level capabilities that can be used to assess development. Using a capabilities framework allows us to identify practical functions of international trade and then subsequently assess whether or not trade is fulfilling its purpose and where exactly it falls short. I offer that this broad understanding of development through trade must not just be focused on gross domestic product (GDP), but also a tentative list of 'capabilities' such as labor standards, environmental sustainability, and human rights.
Supervisor: Wolff, Jonathan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: International trade