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The sentence:

Despite dramatic increases in trade worldwide, countries still differ substantially in the extent to which they engage in trade.

It is a fill-in-the-blank question in our recent exam. Although my answer is correct, I did not understand what is meant by "extent to which they engage in trade". Could you please articulate this phase ?

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    "the extent to which" = "how much"
    – deadrat
    Jun 15, 2016 at 6:54
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    That clause means, roughly "how much they trade". The sentence overall means "Though it is true that every country has been trading more recently, there is still a disparity between how much different countries trade".
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 15, 2016 at 6:55
  • @DanBron, there can be only one country that traded most recently! ;P
    – hkBst
    Jun 15, 2016 at 7:18
  • @hkBst What? In recent times, all countries have increased their level of trade. Not sure what's confused you.
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 15, 2016 at 7:19
  • @DanBron I think he means that only one country can be the country that has traded more than all the others, although why he posted that is mysterious to me. Jun 15, 2016 at 7:52

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I think what the author tried to say is that even though trade is increasing worldwide, the effect that it has on every country will be different depending on how much they engage or take part in the trade. Meaning if a country doesn't have goods in the trade, then the highs and lows wont affect them in anyway in comparison to the countries that take part in trade for example Canada will be affected economically if things start to slow down in the trade.

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