Trade is the buying and selling of goods and services. Goods are objects that people grow or make - for example, food, clothes, and computers. Services are things that people do - for example, banking, communications, and health care. People have traded since prehistoric times. Today most countries take part in international trade, or trade across country borders.

Trade happens because people need or want goods that they do not have. People also trade for services when they do not have the time or the skills to do things. Trade between countries happens for similar reasons. For example, some countries have resources, such as oil, or skills, such as car manufacturing, that other countries will buy.

Both people and countries want trade to benefit them. Families want to earn more money than they spend on goods and services. Countries try to sell, or export, as much as they buy, or import, from other countries.

In some economies, the government controls all trade. In others, the government allows companies to trade more freely. However, even governments that support free trade control trade in some way. They may keep companies from trading dangerous or illegal products.

Countries may charge tariffs, or special taxes, on foreign goods. They may also set quotas, or limits on foreign goods they buy.

In the 1900s many countries worked to stop trade limits. Some formed trading blocs, or groups of countries that trade freely. Examples include the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the European Union, and South America’s Mercosur. In addition, about 150 countries joined the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO encourages free trade around the world.

The lifting of trade limits caused international trade to grow. However, some people questioned the idea of free trade. Without trade limits, they warned, international companies could pay workers poorly and pollute the environment.
Adapted from:

a) Add paragraph headings to the text:

●        What is trade?

●        Free trade

●        Trade limits

●        Reasons for trade
b) Choose the right answer to each question:

1. What is international trade?
2. Import means...
3. What cannot governments do to control trade?
4. NAFTA stands for...
5. According to the article, what is a possible problem with free trade?

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