Research on the Teaching Reform of International Trade Course in the Context of Rising Trade Protectionism

  Reform and opening up and WTO accession have played a decisive role in the rapid development of China’s trade. in 2016, the total value of China’s trade in goods was RMB 24.33 trillion, and non-financial direct investment was made in 7961 foreign enterprises in 164 countries and regions around the world, with a cumulative investment of USD 170.11 billion. However, the current international economic situation is not optimistic, international and domestic economic downward pressure.

Short-term national interests stimulate the rise of trade protectionism in developed countries, and the promotion of free trade and economic integration shows a mismatch between the roles of developed and developing countries, with developed countries seeking to enjoy the rights of international governance but refusing to assume the corresponding international responsibilities and obligations. At the same time, China’s economy has begun to enter the “growing pains”, and whether it can avoid the “middle-income trap” has become a huge issue of debate.

Obviously, the development of trade is still the top priority for China. In this context, the teaching practice of international trade has formed a set of inherent teaching language system under the background of long-term rapid development of China’s trade, economic integration process and huge trade surplus, such as: tariff barriers and non-tariff barriers, free trade, economic integration, international capital flow, etc.. However, the impact of the new round of rising trade protectionism has caused a disconnect between theory and practice, and the teaching language system and paradigm cannot keep up with the latest development.

In this paper, the trend and causes of the rise of trade protectionism in developed countries in recent years have been studied, and combined with the experience of international trade teaching about trade protection, a reasonable analysis of the teaching reform issues involved and useful suggestions have been made.

  1 The difference between the current trade protectionism and the previous trade protectionism

  (1) the current round of trade protectionism to promote the main body is different.

Traditional trade protection is proposed by backward industrial or agricultural countries to protect their industries, so it is often proposed by developing countries or countries in a relatively backward position in the industrial field, and developed countries in the need to develop the world market often advocate free trade and are committed to promoting economic integration, but this time trade protectionism is promoted by the most developed countries such as the United States and Britain.

  (2) The current round of trade protectionism involves more complex political, economic and cultural factors.

While trade protection in the past was mainly based on economic interests and less on political relations, trade protection now is not only based on economic interests, but also involves political games and cultural factors. From the perspective of global governance, developed countries hope to enjoy the maximum rights of global governance without taking too many international obligations, mixed with more political purposes, especially out of the need to contain the rise of China, and take more trade protection measures against China.

  (3) The behavioral characteristics of the current round of trade protectionism are different.

The new round of trade protectionism has abandoned the basic analytical framework of “free trade”, opposed global economic integration (such as the “Brexit” event), and only emphasized rights rather than responsibilities (such as building a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico, claiming that the cost To be compensated by taxing Mexico), trying to bypass the constraints of the formal global organization of governance, nakedly advocate trade protection. Simple and brutal is the characteristic of this round of trade protection, “broken window theory” effect continues to highlight.

  2 The challenge of trade classroom teaching due to the rise of current trade protectionism

  (1) Traditional trade teaching focuses on the introduction of WTO and other formal global governance organizations, emphasizing free trade and economic integration, and less on new forms of trade protectionist thinking.

International trade theory is developed between the two major trends of free trade and trade protection, free trade originated from Adam? Smith believed that free trade can achieve the optimal allocation of resources, raise the income level of countries and promote their economic development. Trade protectionism originated from mercantilism, and became a systematic theoretical system through the development of Hamilton and Lister. In the traditional trade teaching, the analysis is generally based on the benchmark framework of free trade and from the perspective of formal organization governance, and the new wave of trade protectionism is not sufficiently recognized and has not been incorporated into the course teaching practice, so there is a disconnection between theory and practice.

  (2) The teaching practice focuses more on non-tariff barriers such as green, technology and environment, however, the current tariff barriers are making a comeback and the possibility of trade war has greatly increased, and the traditional theory does not pay enough attention to this.

According to WTO statistics, the growth rate of international trade was 3% in 2009-2015 and 1.7% in 2016, and the growth rate of world trade is expected to be 1.8%~3.1% in 2017, which is in the doldrums. The “broken window effect” continues to emerge, and the undercurrents of anti-globalization behavior are emerging. 2016’s “Brexit” referendum, Trump’s announcement to withdraw from the TPP, renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the U.S. tax plan for the border, etc., indicate that a new round of trade protectionism began to prevail and the trade environment further deteriorated. In this context, the traditional teaching of international trade focuses on the impact of technical means such as non-tariff barriers on trade when non-tariff barriers are flooded, which is obviously putting the cart before the horse and failing to get to the root of the problem.

  (3) Case teaching and discussion on the current new situation of trade protectionism perspective is still relatively lacking. In recent years, China’s investment and merger failure cases in developed countries have increased greatly, and the reasons for high investment risks are not unrelated to the trade protection of developed countries. Developed economies, under the influence of the current round of trade protectionist thinking in response to the economic downturn, have activated trade protection measures, resulting in repeated cases of failure of China’s investment and M&A in developed countries.

For example: CNOOC’s investment in futures, SAIC’s merger with Ssangyong, and Chinalco’s involvement in the merger of the two top companies and other failed cases. At present, such cases are still relatively lacking in trade teaching and need to be updated.

  3 Ideas and countermeasures of trade teaching reform under the new trend of trade protectionism

  (1) Pay attention to the current trade measures implementation trends, grasp the teaching content update.

The theory of international trade comes from practice, and is to serve the practice. International trade teaching on the one hand to find a reasonable explanation for the current international trade situation from the theory; on the other hand, more appropriate theory to apply to practice, in order to test the correctness of the theory. Can not be long-term stagnation in the inherent teaching methods, teaching areas and teaching methods, to pay attention to the current countries, especially developed countries, trade protectionism and its trend – the new trend of the rise of trade protectionism, timely update the teaching content of international trade.

  (2) Cooperate with the “Challenge Cup” and course papers of college students to investigate the current dynamics of international trade.

“Challenge Cup” is designed to guide and motivate college students to improve their overall quality, cultivate their innovative spirit and practical ability, promote the active development of extracurricular academic activities of college students, and discover a number of scientific research talents with potential in academics. The course paper of international trade is to apply the theory and method of international trade to write a paper, which is short in length and hot in choice of topic, and usually focuses on a point in the process of international trade learning, and tests the hypothesis of the trade theory through empirical research to help students expand their understanding and thinking of trade theory. Theoretical teaching of international trade and students “Challenge Cup” activities and international trade course papers are combined to form a series of research and reflection on the current situation of trade protection, thinking and China’s trend to crack trade protectionism, to maximize the effect of trade teaching.

  (3) In the course system of trade, we should add “Internet+” module appropriately and pay attention to the role of cross-border e-commerce platform in cracking the new trade protection.

Today’s “Internet +” and cross-border e-commerce platform is increasingly playing its unique advantages, enabling people to break through the traditional real economy, online transactions and offline transactions together organically, opening up a new path to crack the new trade protection, so we in the international trade curriculum system, to appropriately increase the “Internet +” module, remind students to pay attention to cross-border e-commerce platform, so that in the future when they go to work can be smoothly and quickly integrated into the work, play the professional strengths, avoid the shortcomings, in order to promote the smooth and rapid development of?M trade.

  (4) Increase students’ collection and research on failed cases of investment and M&A.

At present, there are many failed cases of M&A in other countries, especially in developed countries. We should use the basic knowledge of international trade to collect the relevant cases systematically and study them in different categories, focusing on the causes, processes and lessons learned from the failures.

  4 Conclusion

  Trade protectionist thinking and anti-trade protection has been spiraling alternately, and the current round of trade protectionism is a kind of trade protectionist thinking that appears at a higher level. In the coming period, free trade, economic integration, and governance of formal global organizations are not exactly the standard language paradigm of current trade teaching, and moderate adjustments need to be made.

It is necessary to strengthen the research on the new round of trade protectionism and the collection of trade cases, to guide students to pay attention to the latest trade protection thinking and to start in-depth discussions, and to promote teaching toward enhancing students’ awareness and strengthening their social practice ability.