Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 137–159 | Cite as

International Competitiveness and Comparative Advantage: A Survey and a Proposal for Measurement

  • Eckhard SiggelEmail author


The concept of competitiveness, or competitive advantage, has been given numerous interpretations and tends to be ambiguous. Comparative advantage, although rigorously defined in the Ricardian trade model, is also subject to different interpretations when extended beyond the classical trade theory and, particularly, with respect to its measurement. The present paper first reviews the literature that deals with definitions and measurements of these concepts, distinguishing their main characteristics, such as macro vs. micro, static vs. dynamic, positive vs. normative, ex ante vs. ex post, as well as the different uses made of the proposed measures. Second, the paper proposes an integrated approach, in which it is demonstrated how competitiveness and comparative advantage are best related to each other and how they differ. The proposed measurement serves the purpose of quantifying the different sources of competitiveness. It is shown how it can be applied to guide policy makers in their evaluation of trade and industrial policies. The latter aspect is illustrated by reference to several applied studies using the method of analysis in the context of policy reforms in India, Mali, Kenya and Uganda.


competitiveness comparative advantage price distortions policy analysis 

JEL Classifications

F10 F13 F14 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsConcordia University, MontrealMontrealCanada

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