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The Silent Success of Customs Unions

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  • Gnutzmann, Hinnerk; Gnutzmann-Mkrtchyan, Arevik

Abstract

While "mega FTAs" and WTO-driven efforts at multilateral liberalisation dominate the agenda, customs unions (CU) are the silent success story of regional integration. Throughout the world, CUs have been superseding earlier FTAs, as new unions were formed or old ones expanded. Due to problems of measurement, this fact appears to have gone largely unnoticed so far. We show that the proliferation of CUs is driven by national social welfare considerations: even allowing for lobbying, CUs lead to higher social welfare than any other bilateral trade agreement. Thus, even the most ambitious mega FTAs eventually turn into "mega CUs".

Suggested Citation

  • Gnutzmann, Hinnerk; Gnutzmann-Mkrtchyan, Arevik, 2016. "The Silent Success of Customs Unions," Economics Working Papers ECO2016/02, European University Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:eui:euiwps:eco2016/02
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Customs Unions; Political Viability; Member Welfare;

    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade

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