Academic Master


The Political Economy of International Trade

Research Question of the Article: The author, Helen V. Milner seeks to explain the major factors, structures, concepts, theories, and important data that help in explaining the rise in international trade in a few decades before the writing of the research article under review. Moreover, the author has tried to solve the puzzle of barrier-free exchange of goods and services amongst various nations with the help of three points. Apart from this, Milner has weighed the pros and cons of IPE researchers’ and scientists’ opinions regarding the significant acceleration of global trade. In his exploration of factors and intricacies of rising international trade, Milner elaborates the importance of comprehending the power and influence of societal factors. Various global and domestic factors, interactions, regulations, and policies contribute to the expansion of the international exchange of services and goods. The author raises questions on the certain contemplations presented by some authors on the topic. For example, he writes “in sum, theories of trade preferences seem to provide only poor explanations for the major change in trade policy that has occurred globally in the past decade” (Milner, 101). According to the scholar, the role of political and societal powers is considerable in the expansion of global trade. The researchers might see many logical and chronological gaps in the article although it seems coherent for new learners of IPE.

Main Arguments and Theories: This article’s main argument is the critical role of the three main factors of the rapid rise in global trades. He has written the article in 1999, which was a period of political and economic stability in developed nations. It might be the reason that he has used the “preference-based theories.” Besides, he uses the “theory of hegemonic stability” to prove his points. In recent years, learners of international relations have increased their efforts to explore the relations between international politics and global trade and economics. The writer draws the attention of readers towards the opposite preferences and liking of various political groups in developing nations regarding trade liberalization. As he says “numerous studies, however, suggest that many interest groups in LDCs opposed trade liberalization and few supported it (e.g. Bates & Krueger 1993, Haggard & Webb 1994)” (Milner, 100). He also argues that since the end of the Second World War, the trade tariffs have “reduced to insignificant levels” (Milner, 93). His contemplation regarding trade tariffs seems correct. His second argument is “the administrative capacity of the state is also seen as an important factor shaping trade policy” (Milner, 102). His third argument is global politics, “a number of factors in the international system have been connected to countries’ trade policy choices” (Milner, 104).

Closing Thoughts: Milner has provided a lucid review and account of the expansion in global trade and its three contributory factors along with the relevant theories. The author has used the data to supplement his contemplations and assertions. Milner’s approach is multidisciplinary which enhances the weight of rationality and logic applied in his contemplations of rising international trade. By shedding light on IPE and trade levies, the author provided the reviewers with a core comprehension of local institutional policies and the national-international interaction. In the broader context, it is vital to learn the conceptual and practical implications of the reduction in trade tariffs. Similarly, international institutions might impact the policies of various nations especially the developing ones. He writes “many scholars conclude that the willingness of states to set up and participate in such institutions implies that they do matter” (Milner, 106). He rightly points out towards IMF and GATT to enhance global trade (Milner, 106). In the conclusion, he admits that existing theories might be unable to predict the sustainability of the rise in international trade (Milner, 112).

Works Cited

Milner, Helen V. “The Political Economy of International Trade.” Annual Review of Political Science, vol. 2, no. 1, June 1999, pp. 91–114,,10.1146/annurev.polisci.2.1.91. Accessed 23 Apr. 2021.



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