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Negotiating Free Trade

  • Helpman, Elhanan
  • Antras, Pol
  • Aghion, Philippe

We develop a dynamic bargaining model in which a leading country endogenously decides whether to sequentially negotiate free trade agreements with subsets of countries or engage in simultaneous multilateral bargaining with all countries at once. We show how the structure of coalition externalities shapes the choice between sequential and multilateral bargaining, and we identify circumstances in which the grand coalition is the equilibrium outcome, leading to worldwide free trade. A model of international trade is then used to illustrate equilibrium outcomes and how they depend on the structure of trade and protection. Global free trade is not achieved when the political-economy motive for protection is sufficiently large. Furthermore, the model generates both “building bloc†and “stumbling bloc†effects of preferential trade agreements. In particular, we describe an equilibrium in which global free trade is attained only when preferential trade agreements are permitted to form (a building bloc effect), and an equilibrium in which global free trade is attained only when preferential trade agreements are forbidden (a stumbling bloc effect). The analysis identifies conditions under which each of these outcomes emerges.

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Paper provided by Harvard University Department of Economics in its series Scholarly Articles with number 3351239.

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Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Journal of International Economics
Handle: RePEc:hrv:faseco:3351239
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Web page: http://www.economics.harvard.edu/

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  1. Bagwell, Kyle & Staiger, Robert W., 2010. "Backward stealing and forward manipulation in the WTO," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 49-62, September.
  2. Grossman, Gene & Helpman, Elhanan, 1994. "The Politics of Free Trade Agreements," CEPR Discussion Papers 908, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Armando Gomes, 2005. "Multilateral Contracting with Externalities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(4), pages 1329-1350, 07.
  4. Won Chang & Winters, L. Alan, 1999. "How regional blocs affect excluded countries - the price effects of MERCOSUR," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2157, The World Bank.
  5. Pravin Krishna, 1998. "Regionalism And Multilateralism: A Political Economy Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(1), pages 227-250, February.
  6. Riezman, Raymond, 1985. "Customs unions and the core," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3-4), pages 355-365, November.
  7. Gomes, Armando R & Jehiel, Philippe, 2001. "Dynamic Processes of Social and Economic Interactions: On the Persistence of Inefficiencies," CEPR Discussion Papers 3012, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Richard Baldwin, 1993. "A Domino Theory of Regionalism," NBER Working Papers 4465, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Kamal Saggi & Halis Murat Yildiz, 2011. "Bilateral Trade Agreements and the Feasibility of Multilateral Free Trade," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(2), pages 356-373, 05.
  10. Debraj Ray & Rajiv Vohra, 1998. "A Theory of Endogenous Coalition Structures," Working Papers 98-1, Brown University, Department of Economics, revised Jan 1998.
  11. Carraro, Carlo & Siniscalco, Domenico, 1993. "Strategies for the international protection of the environment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 309-328, October.
  12. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1994. "Protection for Sale," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 833-50, September.
  13. Jeffrey A. Frankel & Ernesto Stein & Shang-Jin Wei, 1996. "Regional Trading Arrangement: Natural or Super-Natural?," NBER Working Papers 5431, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. 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.
  15. Bagwell, Kyle & Staiger, Robert W., 2004. "Multilateral trade negotiations, bilateral opportunism and the rules of GATT/WTO," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 1-29, May.
  16. Ray, Debraj & Vohra, Rajiv, 1997. "Equilibrium Binding Agreements," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 30-78, March.
  17. John H. Jackson, 1997. "The World Trading System, 2nd Edition: Law and Policy of International Economic Relations," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262600277, June.
  18. Jones, Ronald W, 1970. "The Transfer Problem Revisited," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 37(146), pages 178-84, May.
  19. Burbidge, John B. & James A. DePater & Gordon M. Meyers & Abhijit Sengupta, 1997. "A Coalition-Formation Approach to Equilibrium Federations and Trading Blocs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 940-56, December.
  20. Lawrence H. Summers, 1991. "Regionalism and the world trading system," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 295-301.
  21. Taiji Furusawa & Hideo Konishi, 2004. "Free Trade Networks with Transfers," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 606, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 19 Jan 2005.
  22. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 1999. "Multilateral Trade Negotiations, Bilateral Opportunism and the Rules of GATT," NBER Working Papers 7071, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Taiji Furusawa & Hideo Konishi, 2002. "Free Trade Networks," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 548, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 08 Sep 2003.
  24. Bhagwati, Jagdish N & Brecher, Richard A & Hatta, Tatsuo, 1983. "The Generalized Theory of Transfers and Welfare: Bilateral Transfers in a Multilateral World," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 606-18, September.
  25. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 2004. "The Economics of the World Trading System," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262524341, June.
  26. Sang-Seung, Yi, 1996. "Endogenous formation of customs unions under imperfect competition: open regionalism is good," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1-2), pages 153-177, August.
  27. Arvind Panagariya, 2000. "Preferential Trade Liberalization: The Traditional Theory and New Developments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(2), pages 287-331, June.
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  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. repec:wop:syecwp:9713 is not listed on IDEAS
  32. Wilfred J. Ethier, 1998. "Regionalism in a Multilateral World," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1214-1245, December.
  33. Jean-Jacques Laffont & Jean Tirole, 1993. "A Theory of Incentives in Procurement and Regulation," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262121743, June.
  34. Winters, L Alan, 1997. "Regionalism and the Rest of the World: Theory and Estimates of the Effects of European Integration," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 5(4), pages 134-47, Supplemen.
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