Due to the ongoing globalization of markets and the increasing removal of barriers1, economic interactions between different countries are subject to fundamental discussions. Whilst some people argue that global economy unfolds positive overall effects, others believe that it only benefits some of the actors involved at the expense of the remaining participants. .
With regard to this debate, the present essay investigates liberal claims that the international economy is a "positive-sum" game, arguing that evidence supporting Liberalism is of rather fragile nature.2 According to Liberalism, international economic exchange provides advantages for all actors involved and leads to an increase in wealth. The expression "positive-sum" game used in this context refers to a game or situation in which all participants are able to profit from mutual exchange in different ways.3 It is linked to Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage which states that countries gain from trade with goods they produce most efficiently. Contrary to the other two schools of thought within the field of international political economy (IPE) – Mercantilism and Marxism – Liberalism focuses only on the consequences of resource allocation on social welfare without dwelling on its distributional consequences (Mankiw, 2010: 228; Oatley, 2012: 9-12; Ravenhill, 2014: 39). But does international trade as one area of global economy really lead to mutual benefits as claimed by Liberalists? .
From a global perspective, one approach to answer the question is to have a look at international data and compare the economic development of countries open and close to trade. Evidence supporting the assumption that trade leads to greater prosperity comes from a survey conducted by Warner and Sachs between 1970 and 1998. Their findings show that among developed and developing countries, the economy of those open to trade enjoyed a higher annual growth (Mankiw, 2010: 228-229).