Bilateral versus Multilateral Free Trade Agreements: A Welfare Analysis
Why do we observe proliferation of bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) between certain types of countries instead of having progress in attaining global free trade through a multilateral FTA? We answer this question by exploring the enforceability of di¡èerent types of FTAs through comparing minimum discount factors that are necessary to sustain them in an in?nitely repeated game framework. We also search for the globally welfare maximizing trade agreements that are sustainable under different conditions. The results depict that transportation costs, differences in country sizes and comparative advantages are all obstacles for having a multilateral FTA. Accordingly, international development policies conducted for the removal of such obstacles should be the main goal toward achieving a multilateral FTA, which we show to be the ?rst-best solution to the maximization problem of global welfare.
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