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Multilateral Tariff Cooperation During the Formation of Customs Unions

  • Bagwell, Kyle
  • Staiger, Robert

We study the implications of customs union formation for multilateral tariff cooperation. We model cooperation in multilateral trade policy as self-enforcing, in that it involves balancing the current gains from deviating unilaterally from an agreed-upon trade policy against the future losses from forfeiting the benefits of multilateral cooperation that such a unilateral defection would imply. The early stages of the process of customs union formation are shown to alter this dynamic incentive constraint in a way that leads to a temporary `honeymoon' for liberal multilateral trade policies. We find, however, that the harmony between customs unions and multilateral liberalization is temporary: Eventually, as the full impact of the emerging customs union becomes felt, a less favourable balance between current and future conditions re-emerges, and the liberal multilateral policies of the honeymoon phase cannot be sustained. We argue that this is compatible with the evolving implications of the formation of the European Community customs union for the ability to sustain liberal multilateral trade policies under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 962.

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Date of creation: Jul 1994
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:962
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  1. Bagwell, Kyle & Staiger, Robert W., 1997. "Multilateral tariff cooperation during the formation of customs unions," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1-2), pages 91-123, February.
  2. Baldwin, Richard, 1987. "Politically realistic objective functions and trade policy PROFs and tariffs," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 287-290.
  3. Bond, E.W. & Syropoulos, C., 1993. "Trading Blocs and the Sustainability of Inte-regional Cooperation," Papers 5-93-3, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  4. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 1988. "A Theory of Managed Trade," NBER Working Papers 2756, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 1996. "Reciprocal Trade Liberalization," NBER Working Papers 5488, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Rodney D. Ludema, 1998. "On the Value of Preferential Trade Agreements in Multilateral Negotiations," International Trade 9802003, EconWPA.
  7. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 1993. "Multilateral Tariff Cooperation During the Formation of Free Trade Areas," Discussion Papers 1048, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  8. Kowalczyk, Carsten & Sjostrom, Tomas, 1994. "Bringing GATT into the Core," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 61(243), pages 301-17, August.
  9. Levy, Philip I, 1997. "A Political-Economic Analysis of Free-Trade Agreements," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 506-19, September.
  10. Bond, E.W. & Syropoulos, C., 1993. "Optimality and Stability of Regional Trading Blocs," Papers 5-93-2, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  11. Arndt, Sven W, 1969. "Customs Union and the Theory of Tariffs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(1), pages 108-18, March.
  12. Kemp, Murray C. & Wan, Henry Jr., 1976. "An elementary proposition concerning the formation of customs unions," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 95-97, February.
  13. Carsten Kowalczyk, 1990. "Welfare and Customs Unions," NBER Working Papers 3476, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Anne O. Krueger, 1993. "Free Trade Agreements as Protectionist Devices: Rules of Origin," NBER Working Papers 4352, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Bond, Eric W. & Syropoulos, Constantinos, 1996. "The size of trading blocs Market power and world welfare effects," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-4), pages 411-437, May.
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