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The geography of conflicts and free trade agreements

Author

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

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin, Philippe & Mayer, Thierry & Thoenig, Mathias, 2010. "The geography of conflicts and free trade agreements," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) 1019, CEPREMAP.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpm:docweb:1019
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Enrico Spolaore, 2013. "What Is European Integration Really About? A Political Guide for Economists," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 27(3), pages 125-144, Summer.
    2. Florian Mölders, 2012. "On the Path to Trade Liberalization: Political Regimes in International Trade Negotiations," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1245, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    3. Baldwin, Richard & Jaimovich, Dany, 2012. "Are Free Trade Agreements contagious?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 1-16.
    4. 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.
    5. Vicard, Vincent, 2012. "Trade, conflict, and political integration: Explaining the heterogeneity of regional trade agreements," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 54-71.
    6. Lan, Xiaohuan & Li, Ben, 2011. "Nationalism and international trade: theory and evidence," MPRA Paper 36412, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 03 Feb 2012.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Free Trading Arrangements; Trade; War;

    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration

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