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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 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 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 a bilateral conflict, increases the political incentive to sign FTAs.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7740.

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Date of creation: Mar 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7740
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  1. 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.
  2. Antoni Estevadeordal & Caroline Freund & Emanuel Ornelas, 2008. "Does Regionalism Affect Trade Liberalization Toward Nonmembers?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1531-1575.
  3. Scott L. Baier & Jeffrey H. Bergstrand, 2005. "Do free trade agreements actually increase members’ international trade?," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2005-03, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Philippe Martin & Thierry Mayer & Mathias Thoenig, 2008. "Make Trade Not War?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(3), pages 865-900.
  7. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2009. "War and Relatedness," NBER Working Papers 15095, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Baldwin, Richard & Jaimovich, Dany, 2010. "Are Free Trade Agreements Contagious?," CEPR Discussion Papers 7904, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  10. Fugazza, Marco & Robert-Nicoud, Frédéric, 2010. "The 'Emulator Effect' of the Uruguay Round on US Regionalism," CEPR Discussion Papers 7703, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Michaels, Guy & Zhi, Xiaojia, 2007. "Freedom Fries," CEPR Discussion Papers 6380, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Vincent Vicard, 2006. "Trade, Conflicts, and Political Integration: the Regional Interplays," CESifo Working Paper Series 1839, CESifo Group Munich.
  13. 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.
  14. Fearon, James D., 1995. "Rationalist explanations for war," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(03), pages 379-414, June.
  15. Céline CARRERE, 2003. "Revisiting the Effects of Regional Trading Agreements on trade flows with Proper Specification of the Gravity Model," Working Papers 200310, CERDI.
  16. 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.
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