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Hub-and-Spoke or Else? Free Trade Agreements in the Enlarged EU - A Gravity Model Estimate




The aim of this paper is to estimate the effect of the EU’s eastern enlargement on the trade patterns of the Central and Eastern European countries (CEECs) that joined the Union in May 2004. In particular, the paper investigates whether and how the EU’s free trade agreements (FTAs) with the CEECs have affected centre-periphery and intra-periphery trade flows. It also evaluates whether the EU-membership factor has had the added positive effects on exports from the CEECs as anticipated. The analysis focuses on bilateral trade flows between eight CEECs and the EU-23, for which a gravity equation is estimated using a system GMM dynamic panel data approach. The results support the assumptions that gravity forces and ‘persistence effects’ do indeed matter. With respect to the effect of FTAs, evidence is found that FTAs between EU countries and CEECs matter. Yet there is also evidence that the presence of intra-periphery agreements have helped to expand intra-periphery trade and limit the emergence of a hub-and-spoke relationship between the EU and the CEECs. These results have important policy implications for the trade strategy of EU candidate countries in south-eastern Europe as well as in the southern Mediterranean. According to the empirical results, these countries should move towards a regional free trade area as exemplified by the Central European Free Trade Agreement and the Baltic Free Trade Agreement to avoid hub-and-spoke effects.

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  • Luca De Benedictis & Roberta De Santis & Claudio Vicarelli, 2005. "Hub-and-Spoke or Else? Free Trade Agreements in the Enlarged EU - A Gravity Model Estimate," Economics Working Papers 037, European Network of Economic Policy Research Institutes.
  • Handle: RePEc:epr:enepwp:037

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    6. Vaittinen Risto, 2000. "Eastern Enlargement of the European Union - Transition in applicant countries and evaluation of the economic prospects with a dynamic CGE-model," Research Reports 64, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
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    Cited by:

    1. Maria Cipollina & Luca Salvatici, 2010. "Reciprocal Trade Agreements in Gravity Models: A Meta-Analysis," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(1), pages 63-80, February.
    2. Costantini, Valeria & Mazzanti, Massimiliano, 2012. "On the green and innovative side of trade competitiveness? The impact of environmental policies and innovation on EU exports," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 132-153.
    3. Pastore Francesco & Ferragina Anna Maria & Giovannetti Giorgia, 2009. "A Tale of Parallel Integration Processes: A Gravity Analysis of EU Trade with Mediterranean and Central and Eastern European Countries," Review of Middle East Economics and Finance, De Gruyter, vol. 5(2), pages 21-44, September.
    4. Kaplan, Lennart C. & Kohl, Tristan & Martínez-Zarzoso, Inmaculada, 2016. "The effects of the CEECS's accession on sectoral trade: A value added perspective," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 272, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    5. Innwon Park, 2006. "East Asian Regional Trade Agreements: Do They Promote Global Free Trade?," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(4), pages 547-568, December.
    6. Valeria Costantini & Francesco Crespi, 2015. "European enlargement policy, technological capabilities and sectoral export dynamics," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 25-69, February.
    7. Martínez-Zarzoso, Inmaculada & Felicitas, Nowak-Lehmann D. & Horsewood, Nicholas, 2009. "Are regional trading agreements beneficial?: Static and dynamic panel gravity models," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 46-65, March.
    8. Parrotta, Pierpaolo & Pozzoli, Dario & Sala, Davide, 2016. "Ethnic diversity and firms' export behavior," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 248-263.
    9. Emiliano Magrini & Pierluigi Montalbano & Silvia Nenci, 2013. "Are the EU trade preferences really effective? A Generalized Propensity Score evaluation of the Southern Mediterranean Countries' case in agriculture and fishery," Working Papers 2/13, Sapienza University of Rome, DISS.
    10. Horsewood, Nicholas & Voicu, Anca Monika, 2012. "Does corruption hinder trade for the new EU members?," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 6, pages 1-28.
    11. Sithanonxay Suvannaphakdy & Chris Czerkawaski & Toshihisa Toyoda, 2013. "Potential Impacts Of Regional Trade Enlargement In East Asia On Laos' Trade," Journal of Economic Development, Chung-Ang Unviersity, Department of Economics, vol. 38(3), pages 85-110, September.

    More about this item


    trade flows; regional integration; EU enlargement; gravity model; dynamic panel data;

    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • C13 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Estimation: General
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models

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