• Short answer: Basically it allows for specialization - you can't mine for copper if you don't have anybody to sell it to, and if nobody mines copper, nobody can use it. If you don't trade, you're stuck with subsistance farming as the basis for your civilization's economy.
  • Somewhat longer answer: Without trade, each person must produce all of their own goods. This means that we would all have to grow all of our own food, make all of our own clothing, and build all of our own shelters. So, without any trade at all, each of us would have to provide the necessities of life for ourselves. This would take up all of our time and would not leave time for any other pursuits. However, if you trade goods, then individuals don't have to do everything for themselves. Farmers can produce surplus food to help feed people who don't farm. Those that don't farm can then pursue other trades such as construction or cloth making. As each of these trades begin to produce surpluses, people are freed up to pursue yet more things such as research into ways to produce yet more and better goods. As surpluses in production increase, more people are freed up to pursue areas of thought and technology that previous generations did not have the leisure to do. This, in turn, can lead to yet more improvements in the overall quality of life for people and a better understanding of every aspect of our existence.
  • Trade improves the quality of life. You can now possess goods that you would never otherwise have possessed. Since you do not have to produce every item yourself, this frees up your time which can be used in other pursuits.

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