International Trade

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International Trade
This Course Guide has been taken from the most recent presentation of the course. It would be useful for reference purposes but please note that there may be updates for the following presentation.

International Trade


ECON A315 International Trade is an elective course in the programme offered by the Open University of Hong Kong leading to the degree of Bachelor in Social Sciences.

ECON A315 is a Higher level economics course and aims to give students a broad and systematic overview of both the theory and practice of major issues in international trade. The course is a five-credit one and the duration is two semesters. There is no formal prerequisite for this course but it would be easier for students if they had taken ECON A231 Introduction to Microeconomics and/or ECON A232 Introduction to Macroeconomics .

Purpose of this Course Guide

By now you will have completed other Open University of Hong Kong courses. You are, therefore, well aware of the study skills required for distance learning, have developed your own study schedules and methods and are familiar with the organization of OUHK courses. Even so, you should read this Course Guide thoroughly before proceeding to look at the study units or your textbooks. Some of the content will be familiar to you but much of the information is specific to ECON A315 International Trade. Please take time to read it.

The Course Guide tells you briefly about the course content and suggests ways for you to work your way through the material. It also provides some guidelines as to the amount of time you are likely to spend on each unit in order to complete the course successfully.

The Course Guide provides information on assignments, tutorials, and the examination. Please see the Presentation Schedule for information about the due dates for the submission of assignments.

You will probably wish to refer to this Course Guide throughout the course to help clarify important points about studying with the OUHK, so keep it in a convenient place.

Course aims

ECON A315 aims to give students a broad and systematic overview of both the theory and practice of major issues in international trade. It demonstrates how theoretical trade models can be applied to explain international trade issues. It also familiarizes students with theoretical and practical international trade policy issues.

Course learning outcomes

Upon completion of this course, you should be able to:

  1. Explain why countries trade and why trade is beneficial.

  2. Appraise the open nature of the Hong Kong economy.

  3. Analyse standard international trade policies and relate them to the current trade problems faced by Hong Kong and the East Asian economies.

  4. Analyse the role of international institutions in guaranteeing free trade.

  5. Identify and assess the challenges to free trade in the modern age.

Course overview

The following chart gives a general overview of the course structure.

Unit Title Weeks Assessment activity
(end of unit)
1 Introduction to international trade 2  
2 Why do countries trade? 4 Assignment 1
3 International trade policy (1) 3 Assignment 2
4 International trade policy (2) 3  
5 Topics in international trade 3 Assignment 3
  Revision 1  
  Total 16  
Course materials

Besides this Course Guide, your course materials consist of:

  • five study units;

  • a set textbook;

  • supplementary readings;

  • a Presentation Schedule;

  • an Assignment File.

With the exception of the set textbook, which you must buy yourself, these materials are provided by the OUHK.

Study units

You can see the titles of the five study units. Each study unit highlights the key points of the topic under study and explains the underlying economic theory. You will also find many short questions which test your understanding or enable you to practise applying some of the theory. At the end of each unit is a self-test which helps you to check your understanding of the objectives. You are strongly advised to try to answer both the short questions and the self-test questions before looking at the feedback.

Set textbook

The set textbook is:

Krugman, P R, Obstfeld, M and Melitz, MJ (2015) International Economics: Theory and Policy, 10th edn, Pearson Education.

You can obtain this book from The Commerical Press.

Supplementary readings

In addition to the textbook, you will be working through a number of supplementary readings. These are included in your course package.

Presentation Schedule

The Presentation Schedule is included in the course materials. It gives the dates for completing assignments, and attending tutorials, day schools, and so on.

Assignment File

In the Assignment File, you will find three sets of assignments. For more information about the assignments and the assessment of the assignments, see the Course Assessment section below and the Assignment File.

Course assessment

There are two kinds of assessment: Assignments and an examination.


There are altogether three assignments. Each assignment contains several questions. Each question may contain more than one part. You are advised to study the unit, especially the self-test questions and their answers, before attempting to solve the assignment problems. More specific instructions will be found in the Assignment File.

You are required to finish the assignments for tutors to mark. Only the best two grades count for continuous assessment. Fifty per cent of your final grade will depend on your assignments.

Final examination

At the end of the course, there will be a two-hour final examination. The examination will be comprehensive and contain many multi-part questions. You should not assume that the examination will concentrate on asking questions on a few topics and neglect some other topics when you prepare for the final examination.

Fifty per cent of your final grade will depend on your performance in the final examination.

Course marking scheme

Assessment Marks
Assignments 1 - 3 best 2 of 3 @ 25% each = 50%
Final Examination 50% of overall course marks
Total 100% of course marks
How to work through the course material

Study units

Read each study unit carefully as it guides your learning. Each unit tells you what the unit objectives are, what textbook readings you are assigned and details about the assignments. You must read both the study units and the material from the textbook and readings. They are not alternatives. If additional readings are provided for the unit, you should read those as indicated.

Each study unit is organized into a number of sections. The introduction is followed by the unit objectives. There is a short introduction, followed by the study unit proper. This guides your learning, directs you to text readings and provides questions, activities and self-tests. Answers to the self-tests follow at the end of the unit. A summary gives a final review of the material covered.

My advice is to proceed slowly and make sure you understand line by line. Go through the short questions. Understand all the diagrams. Then you should try the self-test questions. Self-test questions are meant to be a little bit difficult. Do not get frustrated if you cannot answer all of them correctly. You can refer to the answers. But try to answer them before referring to the answers. (Note that in Unit 1, which is a wide ranging introduction to the discipline of economics, there are no self-test questions.)

Checking understanding

The unit objectives set out what you are expected to accomplish through studying the unit. You should keep these objectives in mind as you do your reading. The objectives help you to determine the core theories, concepts, frameworks and tools contained in the readings. When you finish the unit, return to these objectives and check that you have achieved them.

Keep a note of any difficulties you encounter as you progress through the materials and raise them with your tutor as soon as possible. Try to have specific questions for your tutor to answer and be specific about the material that you do not understand.

Tutors and tutorials


Tutors are available to provide assistance not just during the formal tutorials. Your tutor is also available by telephone during selected hours. Do not hesitate to contact your tutor by telephone if you need help. The following might be some typical circumstances in which you would find help necessary. Contact your tutor if:

  • You do not understand any part of the study units or the assigned readings.

  • You have any difficulty with self-tests or practice exercises.

  • You have a question or problem with assignments, or with your tutor's comments on or grading of an assignment.


Twelve hours of tutorial support are provided. There will be six sessions of two hours each. Also, one three-hour supplementary lecture will be held at the end of the semester. You will be notified of the dates, times and location of the formal tutorials and supplementary lecture, together with the name, phone number and telephone tutoring hours of your tutor, as soon as you are allocated a tutorial group.

Tutorials are not lectures. They are designed to encourage group discussion and interaction. They provide you with an opportunity to discuss any problems you are having.


Hong Kong is a small open economy. Most of its economic problems have international aspects. It is impossible to fully understand the Hong Kong economy without a firm grasp of international trade theories. The course will therefore help you to understand the Hong Kong economy and its challenges and problems. I try to relate all the theoretical discussions to practical real life issues and problems. To appreciate the relevance of this course, it is useful for you to take notice of the international trade and finance issues reported in the media and discuss them with the tutors of this course.

Good luck and enjoy the course!

A note about the developer of this course

Pun Wing-chung, who holds a BSocSc degree from the Chinese University and MPhil and MA degrees from Columbia University, USA, was formerly a consultant in an environmental consultancy firm. Before serving in the private sector, he taught economics at The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Lingnan University.