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Social sciences and humanities


degree course in ECONOMICS AND FINANCE

Course year 3
Teaching units Unit Economia internazionale
Economics (lesson)
  • TAF: Compulsory subjects, characteristic of the class SSD: SECS-P/02 CFU: 6
Teachers: Fittizio DOCENTE
Exam type written
Evaluation final vote
Teaching language Italiano
Contents download pdf download


The course provides an overview of the theory of international trade with applications to current policy issues. The students will learn to understand what determines the flow of goods and FDI across countries, and a number of topics of current interest, including the debate on globalization, free trade and regional agreements, alternative trade such as fair trade.
Firstly, the course provides a review of main subject's foundations, including the Ricardian theory of comparative advantage and the Heckscher-Ohlin model. It then goes on to introduce gravity model and its application to the analysis and forecast of the international exchange of goods. Then, the course examines the role of multinational firms, external scale economy, and frictions in international trade.
Several aspects of economic and institutional aspects of trade policy are also examined, such as tariffs and non-tariff barriers to international trade, the political economy of trade policy, GATT/WTO, IMF, WB, trade bloc formation, developing countries strategies, international controversial issues.
Presentation is largely descriptive, with a large use of practical examples, and diagrammatic rather than mathematical tools.
The syllabus could be adapted due to the online teaching methods, as a response to the Covid emergency.

Admission requirements

Basic knowledge of microeconomics and macroeconomics.

Course contents

1. An overview on international trade and introduction to international economics
- Introducing international trade issues
- The gravity model of trade and its economic interpretation
- International trade: an overview
2. International Trade Theory
– Labour productivity and comparative advantage: The Ricardian Model
– Resources and trade: The Heckscher-Ohlin model
– Latest theories on international trade and international competitiveness
3. Firms in the Global Economy
- External economies of scale
- Multinational enterprises: their role in international context (export decisions, outsourcing…)
4. Empirical tools to assess international markets’ competitiveness
– Trade flows and their magnitude
– National competetiveness
– The use of international datawarehouses
5. International trade policy
– Tariffs and other non-tariff barriers
– From protectionism to free trade promotion
– Institutions promoting free trade, rounds of trade negotiations, controversies in trade policy
- Trade policy in developing Countries
- The role of Free Trade Areas
6. Hints to exchange rates and open-economy macroeconomics: Balance of payments and exchange rates

Teaching methods

The course is structured in lectures (48 hours). Students’ active participation is warmly welcome. Real business examples and applications are publicly discussed, in order to allow students comprehending key role of international trade even in the current economic debate. Some external lectures will tackle specific issues in international economics. Students could find on the course’s Dolly Webpage additional documents, dealing with the course’s main topics. During the course, practical classes take place, each of them addressing one of the possible themes of the final exam. Furthermore, the textbook is supported by a web page with a selection of exercises. Students are required to solve the exercises in preparing the final exam.

Assessment methods

Online written examination: Multiple choice questions, one of them being a (short) mathematical exercise to be solved. The selection of exercises suggested by the textbook’s webpage is the basis for preparing the final examination.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding: students will know the main approaches to study international trade and policies.
Making judgments: students will be able to critically explore international trade issues and give personal evaluation on current debate on international questions.
Communications skills: students will be able to improve their communication skills using in an appropriate way the economic terminology, sources of information and data.
Learning skills: students will be able to know the problems related to the international context and to apply such competence to the future working or studying experience. The students will be able to critically use articles published by economics oriented newspapers and magazines.


P.R. Krugman, M.Obstfeld, M.J. Melitz, Economia internazionale volume 1, Teoria e politica del commercio
internazionale, V edizione, Pearson Editore, Milano-Torino, 2012 (capitoli e parti indicate nel programma).
Altri eventuali materiali di lettura/studio ritenuti utili per la preparazione dell’esame verranno indicati a lezione e caricati nella pagina dolly del corso.