2017年03月23日 05:17来源:互联网作者:上海管理员

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  The vast expansion in international trade owes much to a revolution in the business of moving freight


  A International trade is growing at a startling pace. While the global economy has been expanding at a bit over 3% a year, the volume of trade has been rising at a compound annual rate of about twice that. Foreign products, from meat to machinery, play a more important role in almost every economy in the world, and foreign markets now tempt businesses that never much worried about sales beyond their nation’s borders.

  A 国际贸易正以惊人的速度不断发展。世界经济的年均增长率略高于3%,而贸易额的年均复合增长率则高达此数字的近两倍。外国产品几乎在各国经济中都扮演着愈加重要的角色,产品范围广及肉类制品到机械设备。国外市场也正在吸引着那些从来不曾关心其商品在国外销路的企业。

  B What lies behind this explosion in international commerce? The general worldwide decline in trade barriers, such as customs duties and import quotas, is surely one explanation. The economic opening of countries that have traditionally been minor players is another. But one force behind the import-export boom has passed all but unnoticed: the rapidly falling cost of getting goods to market. Theoretically, in the world of trade, shipping costs do not matter. Goods, once they have been made, are assumed to move instantly and at no cost from place to place. The real world, however, is full of frictions. Cheap labour may make Chinese clothing competitive in America, but if delays in shipment tie up working capital and cause winter coats to arrive in spring, trade may lose its advantages.

  B 国际贸易飞速发展的原因是什么呢?当然,其原因之一是贸易壁垒在全世界范围的普遍减少,比如关税的减免和进口配额的淡出。另一原因是为传统意义上贸易小国的经济开放。然而,在进出口贸易兴旺繁荣的背后,有一种力量一直被人们所忽视,那就是将货物运往市场所需费用的迅速下降。从理论上讲,运输费用在贸易往来中并不重要。人们认为,货物在制成成品之后就可以无需任何花费运往各地。但是,现实世界充满了矛盾。廉价劳动力可能使中国的纺织品在美国市场上极具竞争力,而一旦货运的延迟占用了流动资金,并导致冬大衣直至来春天才运达目的地,那么这笔交易将会失去其竞争优势。

  C At the turn of the 20th century, agriculture and manufacturing were the two most important sectors almost everywhere, accounting for about 70% of total output in Germany, Italy and France, and 40-50% in America, Britain and Japan. International commerce was therefore dominated by raw materials, such as wheat, wood and iron ore, or processed commodities, such as meat and steel. But these sorts of products are heavy and bulky and the cost of transporting them relatively high.

  C 在世纪之交,农业和制造业几乎曾是世界各地最重要的两大行业,其比重占德国、意大利和法国总产量的约70%,占美国、英国和日本总产量的40%~50%。因此,国际贸易以小麦、木材和铁矿石等为代表的原材料或者以肉类和钢铁等为代表的加工品为主。但这些商品重、体积大,从而运输费用也相对较髙。

  D Countries still trade disproportionately with their geographic neighbours. Over time, however, world output has shifted into goods whose worth is unrelated to their size and weight. Today, it is finished manufactured products that dominate the flow of trade, and, thanks to technological advances such as lightweight components, manufactured goods themselves have tended to become lighter and less bulky. As a result, less transportation is required for every dollar’s worth of imports or exports.

  D 至今为止,各国仍然将重点放在与邻国的贸易往来上。然而随着时间的推移,全世界范围的商品生产已经转向其价值与其尺寸、重量并不相关的商品。现今,制成品已在贸易往来中占据主体地位,而且像轻量级组件等科技进步成果使制成品变得愈加轻便、小巧。因此,进出口商品所需的运费也相应有所降低。

  E To see how this influences trade, consider the business of making disk drives for computers. Most of the world’s disk-drive manufacturing is concentrated in South-east Asia. This is possible only because disk drives, while valuable, are small and light and so cost little to ship. Computer manufacturers in Japan or Texas will not face hugely bigger freight bills if they import drives from Singapore rather than purchasing them on the domestic market. Distance therefore poses no obstacle to the globalisation of the disk-drive industry.


  F This is even more true of the fast-growing information industries. Films and compact discs cost little to transport, even by aeroplane. Computer software can be ‘exported’ without ever loading it onto a ship, simply by transmitting it over telephone lines from one country to another, so freight rates and cargo-handling schedules become insignificant factors in deciding where to make the product. Businesses can locate based on other considerations, such as the availability of labour, while worrying less about the cost of delivering their output.


  G In many countries deregulation has helped to drive the process along. But, behind the scenes, a series of technological innovations known broadly as containerisation and inter-modal transportation has led to swift productivity improvements in cargo-handling. Forty years ago, the process of exporting or importing involved a great many stages of handling, which risked portions of the shipment being damaged or stolen along the way. The invention of the container crane made it possible to load and unload containers without capsizing the ship and the adoption of standard container sizes allowed almost any box to be transported on any ship. By 1967, dual-purpose ships, carrying loose cargo in the hold* and containers on the deck, were giving way to all-container vessels that moved thousands of boxes at a time.


  H The shipping container transformed ocean shipping into a highly efficient, intensely competitive business. But getting the cargo to and from the dock was a different story. National governments, by and large, kept a much firmer hand on truck and railroad tariffs than on charges for ocean freight. This started changing, however, in the mid-1970s, when America began to deregulate its transportation industry. First airlines, then road hauliers and railways, were freed from restrictions on what they could carry, where they could haul it and what price they could charge. Big productivity gains resulted. Between 1985 and 1996, for example, America’s freight railways dramatically reduced their employment, trackage, and their fleets of locomotives — while increasing the amount of cargo they hauled. Europe’s railways have also shown marked, albeit smaller, productivity improvements.

  H集装箱已将海上运输转变为一种效率极髙且竞争力强的行业,但将货物运往或者运离码头却绝非易 事。总体来说,相对于控制海上运输的费用,各国政府都更倾向于牢牢控制货车运输和铁路运输的运价。然而,这种情况从二十世纪七十年代中期,即美国解除对运输业的管制时便开始发生转变。继航运业率先获得管制解除之后,公路运输业和铁路运输业也相继摆脱了限制运载货物种类、装卸地点和货运费用规定的束缚。生产率的显著提高获得了巨大的成果。例如,1985年至1996年间,美国铁路运输业以惊人的方式在提高货运量的同时,减少了职工人数,缩短了运程,降低了机车队规模。虽然不及美国成就巨大,欧洲铁路运输业同样取得了成果显著的生产力的进步和生产率的提高。

  I In America the period of huge productivity gains in transportation may be almost over, but in most countries the process still has far to go. State ownership of railways and airlines, regulation of freight rates and toleration of anti-competitive practices, such as cargo-handling monopolies, all keep the cost of shipping unnecessarily high and deter international trade. Bringing these barriers down would help the world’s economies grow even closer.

  I 在美国,运输业生产率高速增长的时代或许已近尾声,但对于大多数国家来说,此过程依然任重而道远。许多因素导致了运输费用不必要地持续偏高并阻碍着国际贸易的发展,其中包括国家对于铁路业和航空业的所有权,限制运输费用的管理规定,以及对于反竞争行为的宽容。这些障碍的消除将有助于全球经济一体化的进程与发展。











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