IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Regional Trading Arrangements and Developing Countries: Understanding the Phenomena


  • Manoj Pant


One of the remarkable features of international trade has been the explosion of regional trading arrangements (RTAs) especially after 1990. In particular, developing countries have been in the forefront in contracting RTAs, especially among themselves. The period after 1995 is also characterized by the growth of trade among developing countries while their trade with developed countries has been on the decline. It seems that the latter phenomenon is driven by RTAs. India too has been very active in recent years in contracting RTAs. This article argues that the causality seems to be from trade to RTAs rather than the other way round. It is seen that conventional gains from RTAs via tariff reduction do not show up in empirical work. RTAs thus do not lead to increased trade among countries and are, in fact, a de facto rationalization of growing trade relations between countries. It is argued further that the growth in RTAs is explained more by developments in international politics and the emergence of a multi-polar world rather than by the conventional calculus of economic theory.

Suggested Citation

  • Manoj Pant, 2010. "Regional Trading Arrangements and Developing Countries: Understanding the Phenomena," International Studies, , vol. 47(2-4), pages 187-203, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:intstu:v:47:y:2010:i:2-4:p:187-203
    DOI: 10.1177/002088171104700408

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Richard E. Baldwin, 2011. "Multilateralising Regionalism: Spaghetti Bowls as Building Blocks on the Path to Global Free Trade," Chapters, in: Miroslav N. Jovanović (ed.), International Handbook on the Economics of Integration, Volume I, chapter 2, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Manoj Pant, 2002. "The Millennium Round of Trade Negotiations: A Developing Country Perspective," International Studies, , vol. 39(3), pages 213-226, August.
    3. Robinson, Sherman & Thierfelder, Karen, 2002. "Trade liberalisation and regional integration: the search for large numbers," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 46(4), pages 1-20.
    4. William E. James, 2006. "Proposed Rules of Origin in Emerging Asia-Pacific Preferential Trade Agreements: Will PTAs Promote Trade and Development?," Working Papers 1906, Asia-Pacific Research and Training Network on Trade (ARTNeT), an initiative of UNESCAP and IDRC, Canada..
    5. Antoni Estevadeordal & Kati Suominen, 2005. "Rules of Origin in Preferential Trading Arrangements: Is All Well with the Spaghetti Bowl in the Americas?," Economía Journal, The Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association - LACEA, vol. 0(Spring 20), pages 63-103, January.
    6. Bhagwati, Jagdish, 2008. "Termites in the Trading System: How Preferential Agreements Undermine Free Trade," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195331653, Decembrie.
    7. Baldwin, Richard E. & Venables, Anthony J., 1995. "Regional economic integration," Handbook of International Economics, in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 31, pages 1597-1644, Elsevier.
    8. Pant, Manoj & Sadhukhan, Amit, 2009. "Does Regionalism Hinder Multilateralism: a Case Study of India," Journal of Economic Integration, Center for Economic Integration, Sejong University, vol. 24, pages 222-247.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Sangeeta Khorana & Badri G. Narayanan, 2017. "Modelling Effects of Tariff Liberalisation on India’s Key Export Sectors: Analysis of the EU–India Free Trade Agreement," Margin: The Journal of Applied Economic Research, National Council of Applied Economic Research, vol. 11(1), pages 1-22, February.
    2. Ganeshan Wignaraja, 2013. "Regional Trade Agreements and Enterprises in Southeast Asia," Trade Working Papers 23718, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    3. Zakaria Sorgho, 2016. "RTAs' Proliferation and Trade-diversion Effects: Evidence of the ‘Spaghetti Bowl’ Phenomenon," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(2), pages 285-300, February.
    4. Julián Tole Martínez, 2019. "Colombia entre los TLC y la OMC: ¿liberación o administración del comercio internacional?," Books, Universidad Externado de Colombia, Facultad de Derecho, number 1139, February.
    5. Andrea Bonilla‐Bolaños, 2021. "A step further in the theory of regional integration: A look at the South American integration strategy," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 33(5), pages 845-873, July.
    6. Mohd Rosli, 2013. "Book Review: Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Access to Finance in Selected East Asian Economies, by Charlies Harvie, Sothea Oum and Dionisius A. Narjoko, (eds), ERIA Research Project Report 2010-1," Institutions and Economies (formerly known as International Journal of Institutions and Economies), Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya, vol. 5(2), pages 159-160, July.
    7. Henrik Horn & Petros C. Mavroidis & André Sapir, 2010. "Beyond the WTO? An Anatomy of EU and US Preferential Trade Agreements," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(11), pages 1565-1588, November.
    8. CALISKAN, Ozgur, 2011. "Eski ve Yeni Bölgeselleşme Olguları: Karşılaştırmalı Bir Analiz [Old and New Regionalism: A Comparative Analysis]," MPRA Paper 56611, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Li, Jennifer Chung-I, 2003. "A Dynamic Recursive Analysis of A Carbon Tax Including Local Health Feedback," Conference papers 331085, Purdue University, Center for Global Trade Analysis, Global Trade Analysis Project.
    10. Low, Patrick, 2014. "Preferentialism in Trade Relations: Challenges for the World Trade Organization," ADBI Working Papers 478, Asian Development Bank Institute.
    11. A. Ganesh Kumar & Gordhan Kumar Saini, 2007. "Economic co-operation in South Asia: The Dilemma of SAFTA and beyond," Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai Working Papers 2007-017, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, India.
    12. Sorgho, Zakaria, 2014. "RTAs’ Proliferation and Trade-diversion effects: Evidence of the “Spaghetti Bowl” Phenomenon," MPRA Paper 60503, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Shearer, Matthew & Salles Almeida, Juliana & Gutiérrez Jr., Carlos H., 2009. "The Treatment of Agriculture in Regional Trade Agreements in the Americas," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 2715, Inter-American Development Bank.
    14. Matthew Shearer & Juliana Salles Almeida & Carlos H. Gutiérrez Jr., 2009. "The Treatment of Agriculture in Regional Trade Agreements in the Americas," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 23538, Inter-American Development Bank.
    15. 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.
    16. Carolyn L. Evans, 2012. "Bilateralism, multilateralism, and trade rules," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue jan9.
    17. Alpay, Savas, 2003. "How Can Trade Liberalization Be Conducive to a Better Environment?," Conference papers 331113, Purdue University, Center for Global Trade Analysis, Global Trade Analysis Project.
    18. Wignaraja, Ganeshan, 2014. "The determinants of FTA use in Southeast Asia: A firm-level analysis," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 32-45.
    19. Lee, Hiro, 2001. "General equilibrium evaluation of Japan-Singapore free trade agreement," MPRA Paper 82605, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    20. Susanto, Dwi & Rosson, C. Parr & Adcock, Flynn J., 2007. "Trade Creation and Trade Diversion in the North American Free Trade Agreement: The Case of the Agricultural Sector," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 39(1), pages 121-134, April.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sae:intstu:v:47:y:2010:i:2-4:p:187-203. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: SAGE Publications (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.