The Impacts of Free Trade Agreements on Trade Flows: An Application of the Gravity Model Approach
The proliferation of FTAs appears to have affected economic conditions in many countries through foreign trade. We attempt to discern the impacts of FTAs on foreign trade by using two approaches. One approach is to examine the changes in trade patterns before and after an FTA by using indicators of intra-FTA interdependence. The second approach is the estimation of a gravity equation to discern the impacts of FTAs on bilateral trade flows, i.e. trade creation and diversion effects. In the latter approach we extend the previous studies by enlarging the sample size in terms of the time-period, and also undertake an analysis by disaggregating the trade data with a presumption that the impact of FTAs is different for different sectors. The results of the analysis revealed several interesting observations. Our analysis of the total trade indicates that FTAs bring about trade creation effect and that trade diversion effect is limited. Besides, the results of our analysis of disaggregated trade data show different patterns among different products, and they identify trade diversion effect for many products in the case of the EU, the NAFTA, and the MERCOSUR but not for the case of the AFTA.
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