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Regional Trade Agreements

Author

Listed:
  • Caroline Freund
  • Emanuel Ornelas

    (World Bank, Washington, DC 20433
    London School of Economics, London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom)

Abstract

This article reviews the theoretical and the empirical literature on regionalism. The formation of regional trade agreements has been, by far, the most popular form of reciprocal trade liberalization in the past 15 years. The discriminatory character of these agreements has raised three main concerns: that trade diversion would be rampant, because special interest groups would induce governments to form the most distortionary agreements; that broader external trade liberalization would stall or reverse; and that multilateralism could be undermined. Theoretically, all these concerns are legitimate, although there are also several theoretical arguments that oppose them. Empirically, neither widespread trade diversion nor stalled external liberalization has materialized, whereas the undermining of multilateralism has not been properly tested. There are also several aspects of regionalism that have received too little attention from researchers, but which are central to understanding its causes and consequences.

Suggested Citation

  • Caroline Freund & Emanuel Ornelas, 2010. "Regional Trade Agreements," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 139-166, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:anr:reveco:v:2:y:2010:p:139-166
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    File URL: http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.economics.102308.124455
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    regionalism; trade creation; trade diversion; external tariffs; trade liberalization;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration

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