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Regional Trade Agreements

Author

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  • Caroline Freund
  • Emanuel Ornelas

Abstract

This paper 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 last fifteen 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 of these concerns are legitimate, although there are also several theoretical arguments that oppose them. Empirically, neither widespread trade diversion nor stalled external liberalization have materialized, while 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, 2009. "Regional Trade Agreements," CEP Discussion Papers dp0961, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0961
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Robert W. Staiger & Kyle Bagwell, 1999. "An Economic Theory of GATT," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 215-248, March.
    2. Eric W. Bond & Raymond G. Riezman & Constantinos Syropoulos, 2013. "A strategic and welfare theoretic analysis of free trade areas," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Raymond Riezman (ed.), International Trade Agreements and Political Economy, chapter 8, pages 101-127, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    3. Bohara, Alok K. & Gawande, Kishore & Sanguinetti, Pablo, 2004. "Trade diversion and declining tariffs: evidence from Mercosur," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 65-88, October.
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    5. Mark Melatos & Alan Woodland, 2009. "Common External Tariff Choice in Core Customs Unions," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(SI), pages 292-303, May.
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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

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

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