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Can Bilateral Trade Agreements Help Induce Free Trade?

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  • Raymond Riezman

Abstract

There has been growing debate about whether bilateral trade agreements are damaging multilateral efforts to eliminate barriers to international trade. This paper develops a model in which trading blocs always charge optimal tariffs and make trade agreements based on strategic considerations. We ask a very simple question. Does the fact that trading blocs can form bilateral trade agreements make Free trade less likely to occur? The answer is that it depends on the size distribution of the trading blocs. If there is one large trading bloc along with some smaller ones then bilateral trade agreements allow the smaller trading blocs to coalesce and block the monopoly power of large trading blocs. In this case, bilateral trade agreements facilitate the attainment of free trade. Not allowing customs unions leads to more not less protection. If trading blocs are of roughly equivalent size then bilateral trade agreements allow groups of trading blocs to more effectively monopolize world trade in which case they may make free trade less likely. These results suggest that a policy that inhibits the formation of trading blocs may be harmful. We also compute the welfare effects of trade agreements to get some idea of how empirically important these issues are.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation (CSGR), University of Warwick in its series CSGR Working papers series with number 44/99.

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Date of creation: Oct 1999
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Handle: RePEc:wck:wckewp:44/99

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Postal: Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation (CSGR) University of Warwick Coventry CV4 7AL, U.K.
Phone: +44 (0) 1203 572 533
Fax: +44 (0) 1203 572 548
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Web page: http://www.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/CSGR/
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Keywords: Free Trade Agreements; Tariffs; Welfare; General Equilibrium.;

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References

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  1. Cole, Harold L. & Obstfeld, Maurice, 1991. "Commodity trade and international risk sharing : How much do financial markets matter?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 3-24, August.
  2. Carsten Kowalczyk, 1990. "Welfare and Customs Unions," NBER Working Papers 3476, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Lawrence H. Summers, 1991. "Regionalism and the world trading system," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 295-301.
  4. Gatsios, Konstantine & Karp, Larry, 1991. "Delegation Games in Customs Unions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 391-97, April.
  5. Richardson, Martin, 1993. "Endogenous protection and trade diversion," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3-4), pages 309-324, May.
  6. repec:fth:coluec:9596-04 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Jeffrey A. Frankel, Ernesto Stein, and Shang-Jin Wei., 1996. "Regional Trading Arrangements: Natural or Super-Natural?," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C96-059, University of California at Berkeley.
  8. Haverman, J.D., 1993. "Some Welfare Effects of Dynamic Customs Union Formation," Papers 93-109, Purdue University, Krannert School of Management - Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER).
  9. Kowalczyk, Carsten & Sjostrom, Tomas, 1994. "Bringing GATT into the Core," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 61(243), pages 301-17, August.
  10. Bond, Eric W. & Syropoulos, Constantinos, 1996. "The size of trading blocs Market power and world welfare effects," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-4), pages 411-437, May.
  11. Jon D. Haveman, 1996. "Some Welfare Effects of Sequential Customs Union Formation," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 29(4), pages 941-58, November.
  12. John Kennan & Raymond Riezman, 1990. "Optimal Tariff Equilibria with Customs Unions," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 23(1), pages 70-83, February.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Monika Mrázová & David Vines & Ben Zissimos, 2010. "Is the WTO Article XXIV Bad?," CEP Discussion Papers dp1021, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Mrázová, Monika & Vines, David & Zissimos, Ben, 2013. "Is the GATT/WTO's Article XXIV bad?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 216-232.
  3. Baldwin, Richard & Jaimovich, Dany, 2009. "Are Free Trade Agreements Contagious?," CCES Discussion Paper Series 12, Center for Research on Contemporary Economic Systems, Graduate School of Economics, Hitotsubashi University.
  4. Emanuel Ornelas, 2000. "Free Trade Areas with Politically Active Oligopolies," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1457, Econometric Society.
  5. Kamal Saggi & Alan Woodland & Halis Murat Yildiz, 2011. "On the Relationship between Preferential and Multilateral Trade Liberalization: The Case of Customs Unions," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 1116, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  6. Richard Baldwin, 2008. "Big-Think Regionalism: A Critical Survey," NBER Working Papers 14056, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Melatos, Mark & Woodland, Alan, 2007. "Endogenous trade bloc formation in an asymmetric world," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(4), pages 901-924, May.
  8. Ben Zissimos, 2010. "Why are Trade Agreements Regional?," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 1002, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  9. M. Ayhan Kose & Raymond Riezman, 2000. "Small Countries and Preferential Trade Agreements "How Severe is the Innocent Bystander Problem?"," CESifo Working Paper Series 253, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. Saggi, Kamal & Yildiz, Halis Murat, 2010. "Bilateralism, multilateralism, and the quest for global free trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 26-37, May.
  11. Lisandro Abrego & Raymond Riezman & John Whalley, 2002. "How Often Are Propositions On The Effects Of Regional Trade Agreements Theoretical Curiosa And When Should They Guide Policy?," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 20024, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  12. Abrego, Lisandro & Riezman, Raymond & Whalley, John, 2006. "How often are propositions on the effects of regional trade agreements theoretical curiosa?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 59-78, January.
  13. Carsten Kowalczyk & Raymond Riezman, 2009. "Trade Agreements," CESifo Working Paper Series 2660, CESifo Group Munich.

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