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Natural Resources and International Trade (l.m.)

lauree magistrali ad esaurimento

Natural resources are at the root of much economic activity and they are a key component of many economies. A number of features exclusive to natural resources explain why they occupy a special place in economic, political economy and policy analysis. They include: uneven distribution across countries, exhaustibility, externalities dominance in output and trade, and price volatility.

The main focus of this course is on the links between natural resources and international trade. These links are multiple, complex and important. Natural resources represent a significant and growing share of world trade. Trade in natural resources is essential both for producing countries, and to provide inputs to production in resource scarce economies. At the same time, disparities in natural endowments play an important part in explaining international trade. As traditional trade theories emphasize, international trade improves economic efficiency by allowing natural resources to move from areas of excess supply to areas of excess demand. These "static" effects need to be evaluated against the dynamic effects that trade has on the exhaustibility of natural resources.

The aim of the course is to provide the student with a grounding in the fundamental tools necessary to analyse the double causal relationships between natural resources and international trade. The general strategy is to supply an exposition of this linkages that is serious in its theoretical underpinnings and yet relevant in its connection to current economic events and policy issues.

Docenti: Luca Salvatici (docente titolare)

Crediti: 9

Numero moduli: 2

Date di esame


The outline below includes the main topics will be dealt with in the course. It is arranged for the most part in the typical order in which course will be taught. The order can be changed as appropriate to meet the instructor’s objectives, including coverage of additional content.

Main topics include:

1. Introduction to natural resources and international trade:
1.1 Definitions
1.2 Key features
1.3 Intellectual debate
1.4 The problem of environmental externalities
1.5 The natural resource curse
1.6 The problem of price volatility
2. Natural Resources:
2.1 Non-renewable resources:
2.1.1 Limited supply
2.1.2 Imperfect competition
2.2 Renewable resources:
2.2.1 Maximum vs. optimal sustainable yield
2.2.2 Property rights allocation
3. Trade theory:
3.1 The Absolute and Comparative Advantage
3.2 The Ricardian Model
3.3 The specific-factors Model
3.4 Factor endowments and the Heckscher-Ohlin Model
3.5 New explanations for international trade: increasing returns to scale and monopolistic competition
4. Trade policy and natural resources
4.1 Trade and other policy instruments in the natural resource sectors
4.2 The issue of limited supply
4.3 The issue of open access
4.4 The political economy of trade policy in natural resource sectors
4.5 National resource abundance and regional integration
5. Natural resources, international cooperation and trade regulation
4.6 WTO rules
4.7 International rules affecting natural resources

Final exam

Participants to the class will have the opportunity to discuss a short essay that may have decided to write or one paper chosen from a list provided during the class.


Lectures will be held in the second semester, from March to May 2014, according to the following schedule:
• Tuesday 12:30-14:30
• Wednesday 15:30-17:30
• Thursday 15:30-17:30

[ ultimo aggiornamento 26/9/2014 ]


Reference Books:

Resource Economics, Jon M. Conrad, 2nd Edition 2010, Cambridge University Press, Paperback ISBN: 9780521697675: 300 pages, 31 b/w illus. 1 map 49 tables 20 exercises, £20.99: selected chapters.

International Trade, R. C. Feenstra and A.M Taylor, Second Edition, 2011, Worth Publishers,: selected chapters.

World Trade Report 2010: Trade in natural resources, World Trade Organization, Geneva (Click here)

Reference Articles:

Some topics rely heavily on journal articles and papers. A complete reading list will be announced in the lectures and published on the Website

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