The thesis offers a political economy theory of trade, consistent with models developed by economists to explain the transformation of trade during the last half century. According to our theory, actors can enhance their trading power by increasing both exports and imports. Consequently, the concept of a two-dimensional strategy is introduced, as well as a methodology that proves the existence of a unique subgame perfect Nash equilibrium in a three-dimensional space, which in this case corresponds to a relative situation of "free" trade. Potential welfare gains are available if countries can sustain cooperative agreements like the Nash Bargaining Solution. Strategic interaction takes place in imperfect market structures at both the economic and political level, and there are large complementary gains between these market settings. The model predicts regional trade arrangements, and points to possibly destabilizing consequences for the liberal organization of world trade as a result of power shifts