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The geography of conflicts and free trade agreements

  • Martin, Philippe
  • Mayer, Thierry
  • Thoenig, Mathias

We analyze the interaction of economic and political determinants of free trade agreements (FTA). In addition to standard trade gains, FTAs can promote peaceful relations by offering a political forum and by increasing the opportunity cost of conflicts that disrupt trade. If policy makers believe in such pacifying effects of FTAs, country pairs with large trade gains from FTAs and a high probability of conflict are more likely to sign a FTA. Using data on the 1950-2000 period, we show that this complementarity between economic and political gains is at work in the geography of FTAs. Country pairs characterized by a high frequency of old wars - which we use as a proxy of the latent probability of conflict - are shown to be more likely to sign FTAs, the more so the higher the trade gains from a FTA. These trade gains are estimated by a theory-driven empirical strategy to disentangle them from the political factors. We also show that, contrary to old wars, recent wars make it more difficult to negotiate a FTA. This suggests the existence of windows of opportunity to lock in FTAs and peace. Finally, multilateral trade openness, because it reduces the opportunity cost of bilateral conflict, increases the political incentive to sign FTAs.

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Paper provided by CEPREMAP in its series CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) with number 1019.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpm:docweb:1019
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  1. Baldwin, Richard & Jaimovich, Dany, 2009. "Are Free Trade Agreements Contagious?," CCES Discussion Paper Series 12, Center for Research on Contemporary Economic Systems, Graduate School of Economics, Hitotsubashi University.
  2. Philippe Martin & Thierry Mayer & Mathias Thoenig, 2008. "Make Trade Not War?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(3), pages 865-900.
  3. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2012. "War and Relatedness," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0769, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  4. Vincent Vicard, 2008. "Trade, Conflicts and Political Integration: Explaining the Heterogeneity of Regional Trade Agreements," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00321532, HAL.
  5. Marco Fugazza & Frédéric Robert-Nicoud, 2014. "The “Emulator Effect” of the Uruguay Round on US Regionalism," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(5), pages 1049-1078, November.
  6. Michaels, Guy & Zhi, Xiaojia, 2007. "Freedom Fries," CEPR Discussion Papers 6380, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Antoni Estevadeordal & Caroline Freund & Emanuel Ornelas, 2008. "Does Regionalism Affect Trade Liberalization toward NonMembers?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1531-1575, November.
  8. Egger, Peter & Larch, Mario, 2008. "Interdependent preferential trade agreement memberships: An empirical analysis," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 384-399, December.
  9. Scott L. Baier & Jeffrey H. Bergstrand, 2005. "Do free trade agreements actually increase members’ international trade?," FRB Atlanta Working Paper No. 2005-03, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  10. Vincent Vicard, 2006. "Trade, Conflicts, and Political Integration: the Regional Interplays," CESifo Working Paper Series 1839, CESifo Group Munich.
  11. Céline CARRERE, 2003. "Revisiting the Effects of Regional Trading Agreements on trade flows with Proper Specification of the Gravity Model," Working Papers 200310, CERDI.
  12. Paul Collier & Anke Hoeffler & Måns Söderbom, 2004. "On the Duration of Civil War," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 41(3), pages 253-273, May.
  13. Mansfield, Edward D. & Pevehouse, Jon C., 2000. "Trade Blocs, Trade Flows, and International Conflict," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(04), pages 775-808, September.
  14. Baier, Scott L. & Bergstrand, Jeffrey H., 2004. "Economic determinants of free trade agreements," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 29-63, October.
  15. Fearon, James D., 1995. "Rationalist explanations for war," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(03), pages 379-414, June.
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