Role of Counter Trade in the World Market

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Role of countertrade in the world market

Noted US economist Paul Samuelson was skeptical about the viability of countertrade as a marketing tool, claiming that "Unless a hungry tailor happens to find an undraped farmer, who has both food and a desire for a pair of pants, neither can make a trade". (This is called "double coincidence of wants".) But this is arguably a too simplistic interpretation of how markets operate in the real world. In any real economy, bartering occurs all the time, even if it is not the main means to acquire goods and services.
The volume of countertrade is growing. In 1972, it was estimated that countertrade was used by business and governments in 15 countries; in 1979, 27 countries; by the start of 1990s, around 100 countries. (Vertariu 1992). A large part of countertrade has involved sales of military equipment (weaponry, vehicles and installations).
More than 80 countries nowadays regularly use or require countertrade exchanges. Officials of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) organization claimed that countertrade accounts for around 5% of the world trade. The British Department of Trade and Industry has suggested 15%, while some scholars believe it to be closer to 30%, with east-west trade having been as high as 50% in some trading sectors of Eastern European and Third World Countries for some years. A consensus of expert opinions (Okaroafo, 1989) has put the percentage of the value of world trade volumes linked to countertrade transactions at between 20% to 25%.
According to an official US statement, "The U.S. Government generally views countertrade, including barter, as contrary to an open, free trading system and, in the long run, not in the interest of the U.S. business community. However, as a matter of policy the U.S. Government will not oppose U.S. companies' participation in countertrade arrangements unless…...

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