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In search of WTO trade effects: Preferential trade agreements promote trade strongly, but unevenly

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  • Eicher, Theo S.
  • Henn, Christian

Abstract

The literature measuring the effects of WTO membership on trade flows has produced remarkably diverse results. Rose (2004) reports a wide range of empirical specifications that produce no WTO effects. Tomz et al. (2007) use Rose's data but include de facto WTO membership, to find positive WTO trade effects. Rose (2005) also produced positive WTO trade effects after accounting for the diverse trade effects produced by individual preferential trade agreements (PTAs). When Subramanian and Wei (2007) emphasize general equilibrium trade effects by controlling for multilateral resistance, they find strong WTO trade effects only for industrialized countries. Subramanian and Wei (2007), however, account neither for unobserved heterogeneity among trading partners, nor for differences in trade effects across PTAs (which could inflate WTO estimates). We unify the Rose, Tomz et al., and Subramanian and Wei specifications in one comprehensive approach that minimizes omitted variable bias to show that all specifications produce one consistent result: WTO effects on trade flows are not statistically significant, while PTAs produce strong but uneven trade effects. Extending the gravity model to address specific avenues in which WTO may have affected trade flows, we find that WTO membership boosts trade prior to PTA formation and increases trade among proximate developing countries (at the expense of distant trade). An augmented gravity model that accounts for WTO terms-of-trade theory shows that countries with greater incentives to bargain for tariff reductions before WTO accession experience positive and significant subsequent WTO trade effects.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of International Economics.

Volume (Year): 83 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
Pages: 137-153

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Handle: RePEc:eee:inecon:v:83:y:2011:i:2:p:137-153

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505552

Related research

Keywords: WTO Trade agreements Trade flows;

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Joanne Gowa & Raymond Hicks, 2012. "The most-favored nation rule in principle and practice: Discrimination in the GATT," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 7(3), pages 247-266, September.
  2. Juyoung Cheong & Do Won Kwak & Kam Ki Tang, 2014. "A Within Estimator for Three-Level Data: An Application to the WTO Effect on Trade Flows," Discussion Papers Series 501, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
  3. Juyoung Cheong & Do Won Kwak & Kam Ki Tang, 2013. "WTO Trade Effects and Identification Problems: Why Knowing The Structural Properties of WTO Memberships Matters?," Discussion Papers Series 491, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
  4. Aliyev, Khatai, 2014. "Expected Macroeconomic Impacts of the Accession to WTO on Azerbaijan Economy: Empirical Analysis," MPRA Paper 55096, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Gabriel J Felbermayr & Wilhelm Kohler, 2009. "WTO Membership and the Extensive Margin of World Trade: New Evidence," Diskussionspapiere aus dem Institut für Volkswirtschaftslehre der Universität Hohenheim 304/2009, Department of Economics, University of Hohenheim, Germany.
  6. Gil-Pareja, Salvador & Llorca-Vivero, Rafael & Martínez-Serrano, José Antonio, 2014. "Do nonreciprocal preferential trade agreements increase beneficiaries' exports?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 291-304.
  7. Bradley J. McDonald & Christian Henn, 2011. "Protectionist Responses to the Crisis: Damage Observed in Product-Level Trade," IMF Working Papers 11/139, International Monetary Fund.
  8. Cecília Hornok, 2011. "Gravity or Dummies? The Limits of Identification in Gravity Estimations," CeFiG Working Papers 15, Center for Firms in the Global Economy, revised 26 Sep 2011.
  9. Juyoung Cheong & Do Won Kwak & Kam Ki Tang, 2013. "Heterogeneous effects of preferential trade agreements: How does partner similarity matter?," Discussion Papers Series 490, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
  10. Barbara Dluhosch & Stefanie Krause, 2013. "Diversity and the disinterest in trade liberalization: on the prospects of self-enforcing cooperation," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 23(2), pages 455-475, April.
  11. Moelders, Florian, 2011. "Trade Persistence and the Limits of Trade Agreements," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2011 58, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
  12. Vollrath, Thomas L. & Hallahan, Charles B., 2011. "Reciprocal Trade Agreements: Impacts on Bilateral Trade Expansion and Contraction in the World Agricultural Marketplace," Economic Research Report 102755, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  13. Dutt, Pushan & Mihov, Ilian & Van Zandt, Timothy, 2013. "The effect of WTO on the extensive and the intensive margins of trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 204-219.

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