Trading in facts

©Charles Platiau/Reuters

Getting information and communications “right” has always been a necessary condition for delivering sound policy advice; today, there are many more possibilities to generate and to share evidence-based policy insights, but there are also many more competing messages and messengers. Here are two examples.

Public support for freer trade has eroded in the wake of the economic crisis, slow and uneven growth, and increased unemployment; some people are advocating a return to protectionist type policies. While the desire to be “protected” is understandable, it is also unfounded; but simply asserting this is not convincing. By working with nine other international organisations to compile available evidence on how trade openness, along with complementary labour market and social protection policies, have contributed to economic growth and new job creation, a more unified, coherent and convincing case can be made. And our evidence is clear: open economies grow faster than closed ones; no country has ever grown in the long run by restricting trade; and active labour market and social protection policies help to ensure that the benefits are widely shared .

Popular wisdom would also suggest that “exports are good and imports are bad”. Again, this is demonstrably not true. The reality is that you need to import in order to export. By systematically disentangling traditional trade data to identify where value is added, we can paint a clearer picture of where income is generated, where jobs are created, and how large bilateral trade imbalances are. Most trade today is in intermediate inputs. Increasingly, with the emergence of global value chains, firms import world class inputs that enable them to improve their productivity and competitiveness. Closing markets will in effect destroy the jobs that countries want so much to maintain.

Producing the evidence-based policy advice is only a start; getting the message to the right people at the right time, and informing the wider public, requires tapping into all corners of today’s information and communications world.

Visit www.oecd.org/trade

©OECD Observer No 293, Q4 2012




Economic Data

E-Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter

Twitter feed

Editor's Choice

  • Economic Outlook_video
  • Economic Outlook: The global economy is expected to continue expanding at a moderate pace over the coming two years, but policymakers must ensure that instability in financial markets and underlying fragility in major economies are not allowed to derail growth.Click to watch the video.
  • OECD Forum 2014
    A public event that brings together all sectors of society to share policies and ideas to help shape responses to global challenges.
    Join us on 5-6 May.
  • "There is no shortcut to equipping people with the right skills and to providing them with opportunities to use their skills effectively."

    - Andreas Schleicher, Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General, OECD Yearbook 2014

  • Data Lab Image
  • Interactive charts showing aid (ODA) provided by DAC members; by recipient countries and by sector. Click to compare your country.
  • OECD Insights Blog
    OECD Insights Blog by Brian Keeley:
    Results are out for the OECD’s PISA student assessments on “creative problem solving”.
  • Better Life Index
    How do you measure a Better Life?
    On 5 May, the OECD will be launching a new interactive infographic where visitors can explore the priorities of people worldwide. Be a part of it. Create and share your Better Life Index.

Most Popular Articles

Subscribe Now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive print editions delivered to you directly


Online edition
Previous editions

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the OECD or its member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2014