Politics and Economics approach international trade from different points of view using completely different analytical frameworks.
The problem is that states think in terms of geography and population, which are the relatively stable factors that define its domain, while markets are defined by exchange and the extent of the forward and backward linkages that derive therefrom.
The borders of markets are dynamic, transparent, and porous; they rarely coincide exactly with the more rigid borders of states. A few markets today are even global in their reach. When trade within a market involves buyers and sellers in different nation-states, it becomes international trade and the object of political scrutiny.
International trade has always been at the centre of IPE analysis and is likely to remain so in the future. It is a mirror that reflects each era’s most important state-market tensions.
In the Cold War, for example, international trade was simultaneously a structure of US hegemony and a tool of East-West strategy. In the 1980s and 1990s, trade through regional economic integration was a tool to consolidate regional interests. With the advent of globalization and the creative economy powered by information technologies, trade in intellectual property rights became me a controversial IPE issue.