Terms Beginning With 'f'

Free Trade Agreement

  • January 07, 2021
  • Team Kalkine

What is meant by a Free Trade Agreement?

A free trade agreement (FTA) is a trade deal between two or more countries wherein they agree upon certain trade-related rules and regulations that benefit them mutually. An FTA may include easing of certain restrictions that are otherwise maintained for the rest of the world. The region where countries have a free trade agreement with each other is known as free trade area.

The purpose of an FTA is to make trade between the participating countries easier and give preferential treatment to the participants in the agreement. Trade agreements of any kind go in line with the WTO’s policy of promoting free trade. They stand in stark contrast to protectionist trade policies like tariffs and quotas.

What types of Trade Agreements are there?

Trade agreements can be of the following types:

  • UNILATERAL TRADE AGREEMENT: This involves a single country imposing restrictions and no other country reciprocating. It is also possible for a country to individually ease up on the restrictions placed on other countries; however, this would put the country at a competitive disadvantage.

In this type of agreement, if Country A in the Free Trade Area reduces the tariff on its imports, no other country in the Free Trade Area would reciprocate. This makes the agreement one-sided or unilateral.

  • BILATERAL TRADE AGREEMENTS: This type of agreement involves two countries. It is a mutual agreement between two countries wherein they give each other preferential treatment.

An example of a bilateral free trade agreement is the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement, this has been succeeded by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The agreement was made with the intention of forming a free trade area with conditions of fair competition, incentivised cross-country investment, and efficient resolution to trade-related disputes.

  • MULTILATERAL TRADE AGREEMENTS: These involve more than two countries in the free trade area. These agreements may operate on a large scale and may include many countries that are willing to come to mutual terms about how to conduct trade.

An example of a multilateral free trade agreement would be the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which is the largest free trade agreement in the world. It includes 15 countries across the Asia-Pacific region.

What are the characteristics of a Free Trade Agreement?

A free trade agreement is beneficial because it involves the following characteristics for the countries participating in the agreement:

  • Lowering of tariffs and quotas. For a country charging an ad-valorem import tariff, it may reduce the percentage of the participating countries to give them preferential treatment.
  • FTAs may enable countries to sell to governments. Country A might be able to bid on government procurements in the partner country.
  • There may be certain goods or services that are available in only one country. Free trade agreements may include trade of those of goods and services that were previously not a part of participant countries.
  • Fair treatment of investors from either country. Partner countries would agree to give preferential treatment to each other’s investors.

Why are free trade areas important?

  • Specialisation: Countries become specialised when they engage in imports and exports. With a basket of goods to choose from, countries need not produce all goods for domestic consumers. In an autarkic scenario, a country would have to produce all the goods and be self-sufficient. However, with free trade agreements in place, trade is facilitated across regions and countries can focus on the production of few goods which offer them a relative advantage.
  • Increased competitiveness: When there are tariffs or quotas placed on the imports of certain goods, they become expensive. When imports are facilitated, there is an increased competition between domestic producers, which would then have to produce at a cheaper rate and perform more efficiently. Thus, imports help domestic firms hone their competencies.

  • Competitive pricing: Free trade allows for prices to be lowered to international levels. This increases the purchasing power of consumers.
  • Greater variety: There is a bigger basket of goods to choose from when imports are facilitated. A larger variety increases utility among consumers.
  • No monopoly: When there are more sellers in the market, it becomes difficult for a monopoly to set in, thus averting the possibility of price differentiation in the market.

What are the disadvantages of a Free Trade Area?

  • Lower tax revenue: Governments would not be able to earn tax revenue when quotas or tariffs are not implemented. However, to achieve the socially optimal level of production and prices in the economy, governments should encourage free trade agreements even though it would result in them losing out on tax revenue.
  • Theft of intellectual property: International trade integration might enable certain countries to imitate the products and the production procedures followed by other countries. This can be done by reverse-engineering the products obtained from the trading partners. Thus, property rights might be at risk under free trade agreements.

What is an Absolute Advantage? Absolute advantage is one of the key macroeconomic terms, which is based on the principles of Capitalism and is often utilised in international trade-related decisions. Absolute advantage refers to the competence of a company, region or country to produce goods or services in an efficient manner compared to any other economic entity. The efficiency in production can be achieved by: Production of the same quantity of good or services as produced by other entity by utilising fewer amount of resources Production of a higher quantity of good or services as produced by other entity by using the same amount of resources What is the Significance of Absolute Advantage? Different countries or businesses possess a different set of ability owing to their location, soil composition, weather, infrastructure, or human resource skills. When applied in the right direction, various factors may pan out to offer more cost-effectiveness and hence build absolute advantage of the entity in comparison to others.  The absolute advantage remains one of the critical determinants for the choice of the goods or services to be produced. Absolute advantage in a particular area often translates into profitability in the area. The profit margin increases by the achievement of cost efficiency, allowing the entity to ensure higher profitability over the competitors.  For example, let us assume that the US can produce ten high-quality aircrafts utilising a specific amount of resources. China, on the other hand, can build 6 similar quality aircrafts using the same amount of resources. Thus, in the production of an aircraft, the US holds Absolute Advantage Let’s say the US has the ability to manufacture a certain amount of steel using 10 tonnes of iron ore. China, on the other hand, can produce the same quantity of steel using 8 tonnes of iron ore.Here, China here holds Absolute Advantage in the production of steel.  How Countries Build Absolute Advantage? While natural conditions, which include climatic factors, geometry, topography, cannot be altered for achieving absolute advantage, the countries use the underlying factors strategically in their favour. Furthermore, factors of production are focused at by many companies or nations for building absolute advantages.  Some of the strategies for building absolute advantage includes: Development of Technological Competencies- The implementation of innovative or latest technological innovations allows the entities to lower their production cost, facilitating absolute advantage.  Enhancing Skills of Human Resources- The improvement in the cost-efficiency, along with the quality of the products, is targeted through imparting varying skill development programs. Many countries subsidize or aid the apprentice or labour training for enhancing the absolute advantage in trade.  Improving Infrastructure- The infrastructure enhancement in the form of road, telecommunications, ports, etc. can be useful in enhancing the cost-effectiveness across different industries.  What Do We Understand by Comparative Advantage Vs Absolute Advantage? Evaluating the comparative advantage introduces the concept of opportunity cost, which is the deciding factor to determine the production of particular goods or services. Opportunity cost refers to the potential benefits associated with the next best possible alternative which is missed out when one option is chosen over another.  The Absolute advantage simply considers the capability of a business or region to deliver goods or services in the most efficient manner. The Comparative Advantage, however, also takes into account the benefits that are forgone if an entity decides for production of a particular product or services.  Comparative advantage, based on the notion of mutual benefits, is often used in international trade deals. The Comparative advantage has been the major factor driving the outsourcing of services in search of cheap labour.  Understanding through an Example For instance, country A can produce ten televisions with the same amount of resources with which it can make 7 laptops. The opportunity cost per television is 7/10 or 0.7 laptops. Meanwhile, the opportunity cost per laptop is 10/7 or 1.42 television.  It highlights that country A is forsaking the production of 0.7 laptops if it is deciding to manufacture one television. On the other hand, it is missing out the opportunity to manufacture 1.42 televisions for every single laptop manufactured.  Now, say Country B’s opportunity cost for producing a television is 0.5 laptop, and that of producing laptop is 2 televisions. Then, country B will have a comparative advantage in making televisions, and country A will have comparative advantage in producing laptops. It has to be noted that despite country A having absolute advantages in both the products, it would be mutually beneficial for both the countries if country B produces television while country A produces laptops. Do You Know About Absolute Advantage Theory by Adam Smith? The concept of Absolute Advantage was indicated by Adam Smith in his book called ‘Wealth of Nations’ which focusses on International trade theory. Adam Smith, in his book attacked on the previous mercantilism theory, which mainly stressed for economies to maintain trade surplus in order to command power.  The Absolute Advantage theory considered that the countries possess different ability with respect to the production of varying goods or services. It argued that it is not necessary that a state may hold an absolute advantage in the production of all goods, and here the relevance of trade comes into play.  It advocates that countries should produce those goods over which they hold a competitive advantage. It would allow the countries to make the same amount of goods using few resources or in less time. The theory propagates the relevance of trade for economic sustainability.  What Are the Limitations of the Absolute Advantage Theory? The assumptions used in the Absolute Advantage Theory by Adam Smith may limit the application in real bilateral trade. The limitations of the theory by Adam Smith include: Smith assumed that the productive capabilities of a country could not be transferred between the two countries. However, in practical terms, the competitive scenario aids the nations to acquire new capabilities and acquire new resources, especially in the technological and human resource skill aspects.  The two-country trade which was used as a basis for the theory does not consider the trade barriers levied. The present scenario, however, is strikingly dominated by trade wars between economies. Nations impose huge tariffs, import duties and other type of barriers to promote local manufacturers.  Absolute Advantage theory assumes that the trade between the two nations will take place only if each of the two economies holds an absolute advantage in one of the commodities traded. However, in general, countries despite not holding absolute advantage are engrossed in international trade, boosting their economic setup.

A candlestick pattern which occurs when a bearish candle on 2nd day closes below the middle of bullish candle of 1st day. The pattern is formed by a down candle preceded by an up candle. One of the key aspects of this pattern is that both the candles should be pretty large, demonstrating strong interest and participation of investors and traders.

An alternative to traditional stock exchanges, dark pools are referred to private forums or exchanges formed for trading of securities. They offer an opportunity to investors to make trades without revealing their intentions publicly.

What is the Dark Web?  The dark web is one such portion of the World Wide Web which is not accessible by regular search engines. The dark web is considered a hotbed for criminal activities, and it is much more than that. Various websites exist on an encrypted network inside the dark web. Standard web browsers and programs cannot find these websites. Once inside the dark web, different sites and pages can be accessed like one does on the web. Scientists believe that the internet we see is only 4% of the entire ocean of the web, meaning the 96% consists of the "Deep and Dark Web".  The user interface used in the dark web is usually internet-based, but it utilises special software which is not part of the standard ones. There are dozens of web browsers to surf the internet, but they all work in the same way. These standard browsers use ports and protocols to request, transfer and view data on the Internet. The website you access may look familiar, but as you enter, it may be illegal or something familiar but otherwise not monitored by anyone else. Therefore, the deep web and the dark web are famous for being anonymous. Also read: Cyber Espionage Campaign: Strings that tie China, Australia and the US How to access dark web browser? In order to access a few areas which are restricted, the user may need a password and a process to follow. A special software called TOR (The Onion Router) or the Freenet has these non-standard connections. These browsers are unlike standard internet browsers and have a process to access. They allow the users to browse around the dark web and are focused on keeping the user identity anonymous. If hacked or accessed, the regular web browser can easily provide user information such as who the user is and whereabouts. Though the dark web is providing 100% anonymity, federal agencies have been successful in tracking down criminal activities on the dark web. It is often said that the person you are talking to on the dark web could either be an FBI agent or a criminal. Image: Kalkine   What happens inside the world of the dark web?  The dark web is famous for allowing sinister activities, but many users go on the dark web to access information which otherwise may not be accessible on standard internet. Such as users from extremely oppressive governments who cut access to the world for their citizens. Unfortunately, such confidential environments also provide open platforms to criminals, terrorists and other such individuals involved in illegal activities.   Hence, experts advise users to not access the dark web even out of curiosity as it is a lawless environment. There have been many incidents where innocent, curious users were trapped and forced to get involved in criminal activities or their digital devices hacked and compromised without their knowledge.  A study conducted by a University of Surrey researcher Dr Michael McGuires in 2019, Into the Web of Profit, shows that the dark web has become worse in recent times. Since 2016 of all the listings on the dark web suggested, 60% could harm companies. Everything illegal and criminal can be found on the dark web, it also has other legitimate options such as chess clubs or book clubs, but because of the anonymity, the user will not know whom he/she is interacting with. Inside the dark web, anonymity and lawless nature make the crimes which exist otherwise in our society hard to trace.  The payment procedure inside the dark web is also different from the World Wide Web. Most often, Bitcoin and Monero cryptocurrency are used for the transactions.    RELATED READ: Knock Knock! Cybercriminal at Your Doorstep   What’s the difference between the deep web and dark web? The dark web is part of the entire deep web and is hidden from regular browsing access. Most people confuse the deep web and the dark web as one entity. It is not. The deep web content includes anything hidden and restricted behind the security wall such as content which otherwise requires paywall or sign-in or blocked by the author. Content which cannot be easily accessible on regular internet such as medical records, membership websites, paid content are available on the deep web; hence it is also called Invisible Web.  No one really knows the total size of the internet, but the experts believe that the standard World Wide Web consists of only 4% internet, the deep web consists of 90% and dark web consists of 6% of the entire internet.  ALSO READ: Technology has changed the way we work amid the COVID-19 crisis: A look at in-demand technologies Image: Kalkine     Also read: It happens again, NZX being bullied by Cyber-attackers- Down for the fourth day   What kind of risk companies face due to the dark web?  The Into the Web of Profit report listed below threats various organisations around the world are facing, especially the ones who have weak or insufficient cybersecurity measures.   Malware attacks Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks Botnets Trojan, keyloggers, exploits  Espionage  Credentials access  Phishing  Refunds Customer data Operational data Financial data Intellectual property/ trade secrets    Also read: Cybersecurity and the Requirement of a Resilient Environment in Australia  Are there advantages and disadvantages to the dark web?  The dark web provides complete anonymity, the users get complete privacy to perform any activity, be it illegal or legal. Many countries in the world still have authoritarian regimes offering no civil rights to their people. To such oppressed lot, the dark web provides an opportunity to access news, information, data and also express their views. The dark web is also a perfect place for law agencies to map criminal activities while being undercover. It is also easy to commit gruesome crimes through the dark web as it is complicated and lawless. Criminals can easily use the dark web to compromise someone's privacy, steal data or private information or even hire someone to commit murder.  Do internet users need to be concerned about the dark web?  The simple answer is no unless the user is using the dark web. Study says that most young people visit the dark web out of curiosity. They do not want to indulge in any criminal activity but want to see how the hidden and secret world of the dark web operates. And that is where the possibility of the electronic device IP address getting hacked by other criminals to perform their criminal activities lies.  The earliest use of darknet dates back to the year 2000. Freenet was created at the University of Edinburgh based on a student research paper. Ian Clark wrote the paper in 1999 on the possibility of such an encrypted internet base. Freenet was created to oppose censorship and provide a platform for free speech. The most powerful dark web is TOR, and it was created by the United States government to have a secure encrypted communication in case of emergency and complete disaster. Even today, many law agencies are secretly active inside the world of the dark web to gain access in the criminal world and stay one step ahead.

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