Trade Economist

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Trade Economist


Trade economists conduct research, analyze statistical information and prepare reports on international trading issues, enabling them to provide expert testimony and prepare submissions in numerous matters involving international trade. They anticipate international economic behaviors and patterns and offer innovative solutions and new initiatives. In a nutshell, they attempt to provide people with a practical understanding of how international trade affects how our economy works.

The well-being of our national economy is influenced by international trade so trade economists study the how this affects our everyday lives. They are interested in the factors that influence the well-being of people and they aim to find solutions to improve people's standard of living. This includes studying how financial, labor and trade markets are organized and how they interact. In addition, they research social, political and environmental issues. Trade economists have to know everything about the strengths and weaknesses of economics, and economic methods and theories. It is also important that they are up-to-date with technological developments, politics and current affairs. They use economic trade models and methodologies to think about the world and specific issues which may also require knowledge of mathematical statistics, human behavior, and overseas economic ideas and trends.

Some people think of trade economists as economic fortunetellers or predictors of our future economy. They must, in fact, forecast what they believe will change and occur in trade laws based on the research and analysis they compile. Trade economists use their knowledge and analytical economic research to advise businesses and other organizations, including insurance companies, banks, securities firms, industry and trade associations, labor unions, and government agencies. They must present their statistical concepts in a clear and meaningful way so that people can understand what their data really means.

Trade economists who work for the government may assess economic trade conditions in th US in relation to foreign nations to estimate the economic effects of specific changes in trade legislation or public policy. For example, trade economists might compare how the dollar fluctuates against foreign currencies. They also write reports of their findings and present their cases to their employers.
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  Interests and Skills  
Trade economists have strong mathematical, statistical and analytical skills. They enjoy developing innovative and creative economic models, analyzing information and making economic forecasts and communicating ideas in clear and logical ways (using plain language to describe complex issues). They come into contact with many abstract concepts therefore they must enjoy problem solving. They should also be interested in international law and foreign affairs.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Conduct research and develop models that illustrate and forecast economic behavior and patterns, and devise methods for the collection and analysis of data
  • Analyze factors that determine economic trade growth and advise government agencies on policies to increase economic trade activities
  • Study mathematical formulas and statistical techniques and apply them to the testing and quantifying of economic theories and the solution of economic problems
  • Study the nature of money, credit and credit instruments and the operation of banks and other financial institutions to develop monetary policies and forecasts of financial activity
  • Examine problems related to the economic trade activity of individual companies
  • Examine financing methods, production costs and techniques and marketing policies to discover possible improvements
  • Study statistics on the trade and exchange of goods and services among nations
  • Forecast production and consumption of renewable resources and the supply, consumption and depletion of non-renewable resources
  • Conduct research on trade conditions in local, regional or national areas to set sales and pricing levels for goods and services, as well as assess market potential and future trends
  • Trade economists generally work in office environments using computers and other forms of research materials to compile and analyze data. Working hours are usually long (up to 10-hour days) and longer hours are often required on weekends or during the evening. They may travel locally and globally to present economic information to clients, to carry out research, and to attend conferences and meetings. They may also travel overseas to trade conferences and to do cross cultural contract work in developing countries.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Trade economists work in both the public and private sectors. They are mainly employed by the government but also work for educational and research institutions, large organizations in finance and business, professional and recreational organizations, consulting and marketing firms, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as the World Trade Organization, amongst other places.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Trade economists have the ability to move around different analytical financial sectors. They may decide to work as a business analyst, banker, or stockbroker. Some may decide to become teachers at universities and colleges. Many economists are employed as economic consultants to advise business, industry, government, labor and others may work for international trade organisations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) with their economic analysis experience. Some trade economists may open up their own consulting firms. They can also advance into technical writing positions as they have experience writing clear and concise reports.

  Educational Paths  
As a minimum industry standard, trade economists generally require a university degree in economics or other field of finance, business or international trade law. Many trade economists also have a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and some have PhDs. A master's or doctoral level degree is required for teaching at the postsecondary level and advancement into senior positions. Any programs or courses that expose a student to the world of business and finance are also useful.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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