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Putting Canada in the penalty box: trade and welfare effects of eliminating NAFTA


  • Scott L. Baier
  • Jeffrey H. Bergstrand
  • John P. Bruno


Three years ago, very few economists would have imagined that one of the newest and fastest growing research areas in international trade is the use of quantitative trade models to estimate the economic welfare losses from dissolutions of major countries’ economic integration agreements (EIAs). In 2016, “Brexit” was passed in a United Kingdom referendum. Moreover, in 2019, the existence of the entire North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is at risk if the United States withdraws - a threat President Trump has made if the proposed United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement is not passed by the U.S. Congress. We use state-of-the-art econometric methodology to estimate the partial (average treatment) effects on international trade flows of the six major types of EIAs. Armed with precise estimates of the average treatment effect for a free trade agreement, we examine the general equilibrium trade and welfare effects of the elimination of NAFTA (and for robustness U.S. withdrawal only). Although all the member countries’ standards of living fall, surprisingly the smallest economy, Mexico, is not the biggest loser; Canada is the biggest loser. Canada's welfare (per capita income) loss of 2.11 percent is nearly two times that of Mexico's loss of 1.15 percent and is nearly eight times the United States’ loss of 0.27 percent. The simulations will illustrate the important influence of trade costs - international and intranational - in contributing to the gains (or losses) from an economic integration agreement's formation (or elimination).

Suggested Citation

  • Scott L. Baier & Jeffrey H. Bergstrand & John P. Bruno, 2019. "Putting Canada in the penalty box: trade and welfare effects of eliminating NAFTA," CESifo Working Paper Series 7678, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_7678

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    Cited by:

    1. Jacopo Timini & Francesca Viani, 2022. "A highway across the Atlantic? Trade and welfare effects of the EU-Mercosur agreement," International Economics, CEPII research center, issue 169, pages 291-308.
    2. Hinnerk Gnutzmann & Arevik Gnutzmann-Mkrtchyan & Tobias Korn, 2021. "Consequences of FTA Withdrawal: Evidence from "Uxit"," CESifo Working Paper Series 8859, CESifo.
    3. Gnutzmann, Hinnerk & Gnutzmann-Mkrtchyan, Arevik & Korn, Tobias, 2021. "Consequences of FTA Withdrawal: Evidence from 'Uxit'," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-681, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
    4. Hosoe, Nobuhiro, 2022. "Economic de-integration in North America and foreign direct investment from Japan," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 61(C).

    More about this item


    international trade; economic integration agreements; gravity equations;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration

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