University of Washington-Tacoma
T GEOG  349:  Geography of International Trade
Spring 2012 

Contents of this syllabus:

This content of this course can be expressed as a matrix of theory, policy, practice, and effects of  international trade and foreign direct investment.  

Professor James W. Harrington;  GWP 312;;  253-692-5646
Class meetings:  TTh 4:15-6:20pm, GWP 212
Office Hours:  by appointment

By the end of the quarter, a highly successful student will:

  1. Be able to articulate her/his own learning goals relevant to the course, and assess progress toward them.
  2. Learn the basic outlines of world trade patterns, and explain these outlines using international trade theory (ITT).
  3. Use an understanding of ITT and its assumptions to understand and assess the critiques of liberalized trade policy.
  4. Gain empirical grounding in the trade relationships of Canada, China, or Mexico, emphasizing the trade patterns and trends with the United States.
  5. Distinguish the varied forms of international business (IB), and the choice criteria among them.
  6. Ask and begin to answer questions about the logistics of international trade.
  7. Present a nuanced perspective on trade-policy recommendations for the United States and one other country, to benefit each side.

As instructor, my objectives are to:

  • present lectures and on-line notes that provide both substantive content and some synthesis of readings and assignments;
  • design individual and interactive activities that get students to do something and thereby learn the material, in addition to passive listening and reading;
  • give assignments and tests that assess the learning objectives;
  • assess students in ways that reward individual effort while encouraging students' learning from each other.


Meetings and readings.  The course meets twice a week;  each student needs to be at each meeting.  (I will not take attendance, but we'll have frequent in-class exercises).  Read the assigned material before the class;  we will discuss and at times have in-class exercises to reinforce the assigned readings. 

The assigned readings are listed in full below, and are referenced in the Schedule.  To check library reserves online, go to  (You can also find this by going from the UW homepage to "Libraries" to "Electronic Reserves".)  Several of the articles below are available online through the UW Libraries links to electronic journals. (You have to log into the Libraries website using your UWNetID.)



Ahearne, A. et al.  2007.  Global Imbalances: Time for Action.  Policy Brief 07-4, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
available online
Atkinson, G. and Hamilton, K. 2002. International trade and the 'ecological balance of payments.'  Resources Policy 28: 27-37.
UW Libraries

Bergsten, C.F., Gill, B., Lardy, N.R., and Mitchell, D.  2006.  China in the world economy: opportunity or threat?  Ch.4 in China: The Balance Sheet.  New York:  Public Affairs.


Bosworth, B.P., Collins, S.M., and Lustig, N.C., eds.  1997.   Coming Together? Mexico-United States Relations.  Washington DC:  Brookings Institution Press.

UWT reserve

Boughton, J.M. and Bradford, C.I.  2007.  Global governance: new players, new rules.  Finance & Development (Dec.): 10-14.
available online
Breau, S. and Rigby, D.L.  2010.  International trade and wage inequality in Canada.  Journal of Economic Geography 10: 55-86. UW Libraries
Clement, N.C. et al.  1999.  North American Economic Integration: Theory and Practice.  Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. UWT reserve
Dadush, U. and Nielson, J.  2007.  Governing global trade.  Finance & Development (Dec.):  22-25. available online
(DRS) Daniels, J.D., Radebaugh, L.H., and Sullivan, D.P. 2007. International Business: Environments and Operations, 11th ed. Upper Saddle River NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

(selected chapters);
Opt’l purch

Davidson, C. and Matusz, S.J. 2004. International Trade and Labor Markets: Theory, Evidence, and Policy Implications. Kalamazoo MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute.

UWT reserve

Dicken, P. 2007. Global Shift: Mapping the Changing Contours of the World Economy, 5th ed. New York: Guilford Press.

_____.  Global shift: changing geographies of the global economy, Chapter 2 in Global Shift.

Opt'l purch


Elliott, K.A. 2004. Labor Standards, Development, and CAFTA. Policy Brief 04-2, Institute for International Economics. available online
Faber, B.  2007.  Towards the spatial patterns of sectoral adjustments to trade liberalization: the case of NAFTA in Mexico.  Growth and Change 38(4): 567-594. UW Libraries

Fallows, J. 2007. China makes, the world takes.The Atlantic 300(1): 48-72.
Note: This is in the July-August 2007 issue.

UW Libraries;
Atlantic Monthly site

Guthrie, D. 2006. China and Globalization: The Social, Economic, and Political Transformation of Chinese Society. New York: Routledge

UWT reserve

Hakim, P. and Litan, R.E., eds.  2002.  The Future of North American Integration.  Washington DC:
   Brookings Institution Press.
UWT reserve

Hart, M. 2002. A Trading Nation: Canadian Trade Policy from Colonialism to Globalization. Vancouver BC: UBC Press.

UWT reserve

Huang, R.R.  2007.  Distance and trade: disentangling unfamiliarity effects and transport cost effects.  European Economic Review 51(1): 161-181. UW Libraries
Hummels, D.  2007.  Transportation costs and international trade in the second era of globalization.  Journal of Economic Perspectives 21(3): 131-154. UW Libraries

Kletzer, L.G. 2002. Understanding the links between increasing foreign competition and domestic employment and job loss. Ch. 2 in Imports, Exports, and Jobs: What Does Trade Mean for Employment and Job Loss? Kalamazoo MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute.
Kletzer, L.G. 2002. Conclusions and policy implications. Ch. 8 in Imports, Exports, and Jobs: What Does Trade Mean for Employment and Job Loss? Kalamazoo MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute.

book at UWT

Leichenko, R.M.  2000.  Exports, employment, and production: a causal assessment of U.S. states and regions.  Economic Geography 76(4): 303-325. UW Libraries
Liu, H., Xi, Y., Guo, J., and Li, X.  2010.  Energy embodied in the international trade of China: an energy input-output analysis.  Energy Policy 38: 3957-3964. UW Libraries

MacDonald, I.T. 2003. NAFTA and the emergence of continental labor cooperation. The American Review of Canadian Studies 33(2): 173-196.


MacDonald, L.I., ed.  2000.  Free Trade: Risks and Rewards.  Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. UWT reserve
Peters, G.P. and Hertwich, E.G.  2006.  Pollution embodied in trade: the Norwegian case.  Global Environmental Change 16: 379-387. UW Libraries

Rodrik, D. 1996. Labor standards in international trade: do they matter and what do we do about them? Ch.2 in Emerging Agenda for Global Trade: High Stakes for Developing Countries, ed. by R.Z. Lawrence, D. Rodrik, and J. Whalley. Washington DC: Overseas Development Council.

UWT reserve

Sen, S.  2010.  International Trade Theory and Policy: A Review of the Literature.  Woking Paper 635.  Annandale-on-Hudson, NY: Levy Economics Institute.
available online
Sun, H. and Parikh, A.  2001.  Exports, inward foreign direct investment (FDI) and regional economic growth in China.  Regional Studies 35(3): 187-196. UW Libraries
US Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration.  2012.  A Basic Guide to Exporting, 11th ed.  Washington DC.
available online and
in UBookstore
Waldkirch, A.  2010.  The effects of foreign direct investment in Mexico since NAFTA.  The World Economy 33(5): 710-745. UW Libraries

Whalley, J. 1996. Trade and environment, the WTO, and the developing countries. Ch.3 in Emerging Agenda for Global Trade: High Stakes for Developing Countries, ed. by R.Z. Lawrence, D. Rodrik, and J. Whalley. Washington DC: Overseas Development Council.

UWT reserve


Papers.  There are two research-paper assignments to help students toward the learning objectives.  Each student will focus on Canada, China, or Mexico, for both papers.  You'll want to make use of the information resources compiled by the UWT Library, and the instructor's guide to formatting papers

In addition to readings assigned for specific class meetings, general trade policy issues are discussed by:

Clement et al.
Davidson & Matusz (re labor issues)
Dicken, Chs.17-19
Economist series
Rodrik 1996 (re labor issues)
Whalley in Lawrence et al. (re environmental issues)

Canadian trade issues (including some sub-national, regional issues) are discussed by:
Clement et al.
Davidson & Matusz (provides empirical work on labor impacts)
Hakim & Litan Ch.2
MacDonald 2000 (all students focusing on Canada must read Hart's chapter for Paper 1;  other chapters will be useful)
MacDonald 2000 Part Four on environmental issues
MacDonald 2003 (re labor issues)

Chinese trade policy issues are discussed by:
Bergsten et al., Ch.4
DRS, pp. 364-7
Guthrie, Chs. 4 & 8

Mexican trade policy issues are discussed by:
Bosworth et al.
Clement et al.
Hakim & Litan Ch.3
MacDonald 2000:  chapters on Mexico;  Part Four on environmental issues

First paper.  Describe the changes in your country's largest trade partners, export sectors, import sectors, and amount of inward FDI over the past 30 years.  What does this suggest are your country's sources of comparative advantage, and has that changed over the 30 years?  Describe changes in your country's trade policies over that time period.  Do those changes help explain the changes in trade partners and sectors?  Are there other domestic policies that have had a major effect on the country's trade patterns?
Use materials referenced in this syllabus, data sources available through UW Libraries, and at least three additional good references.  Try to limit your writing to 3000 words.  See the linked grading rubric for this paper.

Second paper.  First, you’ll need to decide whether you’ll focus on
  • a sector (e.g., automobiles, clothing, financial services, etc.),
  • an interest (e.g., energy resources, environmental impacts, unskilled labor, or skilled manufacturing labor), or
  • a sub-national region (e.g., Canada’s oil and gas region, Canada’s manufacturing belt, China’s southeast or northeast, Mexico’s border regions, northern provinces, or agricultural south). 
Explain what traditional trade theory would suggest are the likely impacts of increased international trade between your country and the US on that sector, interest, or region.  (You'll have to do some reading and thinking to come up with this).  Then, do some empirical research (using peer-reviewed articles or books, or using secondary data collected by national censuses) to assess what the actual impacts have been.  Explain how and why the actual impacts conform or do not conform to expectations drawn from trade theory.  Explain one policy measure that your country has developed to try to ameliorate a negative impact or to increase a positive impact. 
Use materials referenced in this syllabus (see the suggestions above;  Part 3 of Dicken's book provides global overviews of several sectors), information resources available through UW Libraries, and at least three additional good references.  Try to limit your writing to 3000 words.  See the linked grading rubric for this paper.

Tests.  There will be two in-class tests (1 May and 31 May):  they will not be explicitly cumulative.  Each test will likely employ a range of question formats.

Response papers.  Each student will prepare six 500-word responses to questions that I will provide to guide your reading of assigned articles (see the schedule of topics and assignments, below).  These are due at the beginning of the relevant class meeting, during which we will discuss the responses in groups.


Grades on tests and assignments.  Each test and assignment will be graded on a percentage basis.  Content, clarity, writing, and format all count in the grading of the assignments.  Be especially careful about plagiarism:  more than three words in the order you read them somewhere else (including on the WWW, including my own lecture notes) must be set off in quotation marks and given a full citation.

Late assignments.  Tests must be taken on the scheduled day, except by prior arrangement with the instructor or ex post written communication with the instructor based on illness (in this latter circumstance, the instructor will need documentation of your illness or that of someone in your care;  this will be handled on a case-by-case basis).  Other assignments are due at the beginning of the specified class period;  20% of the assignment's value will be deduced for material submitted after the specified class but by the following class period;  50% of the assignment's value will be deducted for material submitted later than this, until 5:00 p.m. Wednesday 6 June.

Final grades.  The final grade for the course will be calculated as follows.  Each graded item can contribute up to a specified number of points toward the quarter's total that can equal up to 100 points.  Each student’s final grade reflects the number of these 100 points the student has earned during the quarter.

Table 1:  Schedule of Assignments and Points
Response papers 1-6, @ 4 points each 24
2 tests, @ 16 points each 32
2 papers, @ 17 points each 34
In-class activities
TOTAL possible points

Total scores (on a scale of 0 - 96) will translate into final grades (on a scale of 0.0 - 4.0) approximately according to the  scale below:  the instructor may be more lenient than this. 

Table 2:  Schedule of Points and Grades
86.5 - 100  points
3.6 - 4.0
72.0 - 86.4 points
2.5 - 3.5
57.5 - 71.9 points
1.5 - 2.4
48.0 - 57.4 points
0.7 - 1.4
0 - 47.9 points

Incomplete work.
  [From the University Registrar's website]  A grade of “I” (Incomplete) is given only when the student has been in attendance and has done satisfactory work until within two weeks of the end of the quarter and has furnished proof satisfactory to the instructor that the work cannot be completed because of illness or other circumstances beyond the student's control. To obtain credit for the course, an undergraduate student must convert an Incomplete into a passing grade no later than the last day of the next quarter. The student should never re-register for the course as a means of removing the Incomplete. An Incomplete grade not made up by the end of the next quarter is converted to the grade of 0.0 by the Registrar unless the instructor has indicated, when assigning the Incomplete grade, that a grade other than 0.0 should be recorded if the incomplete work is not completed. The original Incomplete grade is not removed from the permanent record.

SCHEDULE  (with links to on-line notes;  optional reading in parentheses)





Tu   3/27


Overviews and intro
The Economist, overview

Th 3/29

What influences trade flows?

Dicken, Ch. 2
(Huang 2007)
(Hummels 2007)
Inductive Theorizing abt Trade

RP1:  Respond to questions re Dicken's Ch. 2 

Tu 4/03

Th 4/05

International Trade Theory (ITT)


ITT notes
New trade theory video 12
Sen 2010
(DRS Ch.6, e-reserve)

Leontief paradox

RP2:  Essay on your background, learning objectives, & country choice

Tu 4/10

Information resources


Trade policy 
(DRS Ch.7, e-reserve)

RP3:  Answer q’s on trade theory

Th 4/12

Tu 4/17

Trade policy



Boughton & Bradford 2007
Dadush & Nielson 2007



RP4:  Q's re Fallows

Th 4/19

Economic integration


Economic integration, 1
Economic integration, 2
Dicken, pp.180-4, 187-204

(DRS Ch.8)


Tu 4/24

Currency;  exchange rates

Currency markets and foreign exchange
Ahearne et al. 2007
(DRS, pp. 353-63)

Th 4/26

catch-up, if needed
Paper 1 discussion

Review Notes


Tu 5/01

Test 1



Th 5/03

Forms of IB;  FDI

Strategic management

Forms &  contexts
Dicken, pp.106-17
(DRS Ch.14)
webnotes on strategic thinking and international operations;  Dicken, pp.153-68
International dimensions of strategic decision making

Paper 1 due

Tu 5/08

International marketing as an example of integrating and implementing strategy

International marketing
DRS Ch. 16, e-reserve
In-class learning from Paper 1

Th 5/10

Logistics Trade logistics
The Economist on trade logistics
(Dicken Ch.14}

Tu 5/15

Macreoeconomic, sectoral & subnational effects of IT & FDI

All:  Impact of FDI;  Kletzer Chs. 2 & 8 RP5:  Q's on the reading




Impact of trade on labor

Managing international human resources

"Workers of the world"

Elliott 2004
 MacDonald 2003


Tu 5/22

Global supply chain management

Resources and the natural environment
DRS Ch.17

overview notes
(Peters & Hertwich 2006)
(Atkinson and Hamilton 2002)
(Liu et al. 2010)
RP 6:  Q's on the reading
Corporate strategies,
   national will
Dicken Ch. 6
International dimensions of strategic decision making

The Economist: The diminished state?

MNC-Government negotiation
  Tu   ..5/29
  Catch-up and review

Th 5/31

 Test 2

 review notes for second test

  no class meeting

 Paper 2 due (see grading rubric)

copyright James W. Harrington, Jr.

revised 27 May 2012