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War, Trade, and Distrust: Why Trade Agreements Don’t Always Keep the Peace


  • Emilie M. Hafner-Burton

    (University of California, San Diego)

  • Alexander H. Montgomery

    (Reed College)


There is growing evidence that preferential trade agreements (PTAs) provide strong institutional incentives to prevent international conflict among member states, often creating the conditions of trust that can help prevent militarized aggression. We provide an approach to the study of how international institutions influence conflict behavior that considers how PTAs exclude as well as include members and create asymmetrical relationships among members that could exacerbate conflict. PTAs do more than create expectations of economic gains and reduce opportunism; they also create hierarchical relations between states, which can encourage conflict under different conditions due to distrust. We theorize these conditions for militarized international disputes, develop appropriate measures using social network analysis, and test our expectations on new PTA data during the period 1950 to 2000.

Suggested Citation

  • Emilie M. Hafner-Burton & Alexander H. Montgomery, 2012. "War, Trade, and Distrust: Why Trade Agreements Don’t Always Keep the Peace," Conflict Management and Peace Science, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 29(3), pages 257-278, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:compsc:v:29:y:2012:i:3:p:257-278

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    Cited by:

    1. Madhu Sudan Ravindran, 2012. "China’s Potential for Economic Coercion in the South China Sea Disputes: A Comparative Study of the Philippines and Vietnam," Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, Institute of Asian Studies, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, vol. 31(3), pages 105-132.
    2. Bonginkosi Mamba & André C Jordaan & Matthew Clance, 2015. "Globalisation and Conflicts: A Theoretical Approach," Working Papers 201555, University of Pretoria, Department of Economics.


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