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Regional groupings among microstates


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  • Andriamananjara, Soamiely
  • Schiff, Maurice


Forming a regional grouping with neighboring nations may be one way for microstates to overcome a major problem: Because of their weak bargaining power and high fixed costs of negotiation, microstates are at a severe disadvantage in dealing with the rest of the world. They don't have the human and physical resources to unilaterally conduct the various bilateral and multilateral negotiations a developing nation typically conducts. The authors present a model in which the decision to form, expand, or join a regional club is based on reduced negotiating costs and increased bargaining power, rather than on the traditional costs and benefits of trade integration (which might be miniscule for a microstate and might even generate welfare losses). Under various conditions for entry, the model is used to determine the equilibrium group size, which is shown to be positively correlated with the number of issues to be tackled, the degree of similarity among countries, and the per-issue costs of international negotiation. They use the case of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to show the model's relevance in the real world. The countries that belong to CARICOM pooled their negotiating resources and formulated common policy stances. Despite its relatively limited impact on trade and investments, CARICOM served as a political instrument in joint negotiations on trade and investment with larger countries and regional trade blocs. By establishing a union, the CARICOM countries succeeded in making their voices heard on a variety of issues in a way none of them could have done alone.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1922.

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Date of creation: 31 May 1998
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1922

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Keywords: Economic Theory&Research; Health Systems Development&Reform; Environmental Economics&Policies; Decentralization; Scientific Research&Science Parks; Economic Theory&Research; Trade and Regional Integration; Environmental Economics&Policies; Scientific Research&Science Parks; Science Education;


References listed on IDEAS
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  1. Spagnolo, G., 1999. "Issue Linkage, Delegation, and International Policy Cooperation," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 9913, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  2. Richard Baldwin, 1993. "A Domino Theory of Regionalism," NBER Working Papers 4465, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Gatsios, Konstantine & Karp, Larry, 1995. "Delegation in a general equilibrium model of customs unions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 319-333, February.
  4. Byron, J., 1994. "CARICOM in the post-cold war era : regional solutions or continued regional contradictions?," ISS Working Papers - General Series 18883, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.
  5. Jeffrey A. Frankel & Shang-Jin Wei, 1995. "The new regionalism and Asia: impact and options," Pacific Basin Working Paper Series 95-10, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  6. Inotai, Andras, 1991. "Regional integration among developing countries, revisited," Policy Research Working Paper Series 643, The World Bank.
  7. Gatsios, Konstantine & Karp, Larry, 1989. "Delegation Games in Customs Unions," CEPR Discussion Papers 337, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Schiff, Maurice, 1996. "Small is beautiful : preferential trade agreements and the impact of country size, market share, efficiency, and trade policy," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1668, The World Bank.
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Cited by:
  1. L. Alan Winters, 2000. "Regionalism and Multilateralism in the Twenty-First Century," IDB Publications 8749, Inter-American Development Bank.
  2. Schiff, Maurice, 2010. "Small state regional cooperation, south-south and south-north migration, and international trade," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5297, The World Bank.
  3. Schiff, Maurice, 2002. "Regional integration and development in small states," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2797, The World Bank.


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