A Domino Theory of Regionalism
Regional liberalization sweeps the globe like wildfire while multilateral trade talks proceed at a glacial pace. Why are countries eager to liberalize regionally but reluctant to do so multilaterally? The answer of the GATT-is-dead school is that multilateralism is too cumbersome for contemporary trade issues. This paper proposes a very different answer. Recent regionalism is caused by two idiosyncratic events multiplied by a domino effect. The triggering events – the U.S.-Mexico FTA and the EC's 1992 programme – had nothing to do with GATT's health. The domino effect is simple. Political equilibria, which balance anti- and pro-membership forces, determine governments' stances on regional liberalization. Domestic exporters to regional blocs are a powerful pro-membership constituency. An event that triggers closer integration within an existing bloc harms the profits of nonmember exporters, thus stimulating them to boost their pro-membership political activity. The extra activity alters the political equilibrium, leading some countries to join. This enlargement further harms nonmember exporters since they now face a disadvantage in a greater number of markets. This second round effect brings forth more pro-membership political activity and a further enlargement of the bloc. The new political equilibrium is marked by larger regional trading blocs. In the meantime regionalism appears to spread like wildfire.
|Date of creation:||Sep 1993|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Expanding European Regionalism: The EU's New Members, Baldwin, R., P. Haaparanta and J. Kiander (eds.), Cambridge University Press: 1995.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Mayer, Wolfgang, 1984. "Endogenous Tariff Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(5), pages 970-85, December.
- Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1975.
"Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity,"
The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS)
64, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
- Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 297-308, June.
- Grossman, Gene & Helpman, Elhanan, 1993.
"Protection for Sale,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
827, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 1992. "Protection For Sale," NBER Working Papers 4149, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Grossman, G.M. & Helpman, E., 1992. "Protection for Sale," Papers 21-92, Tel Aviv.
- Grossman, G.M. & Helpman, E., 1992. "Protection for Sale," Papers 162, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
- Paul Krugman, 1990.
"Increasing Returns and Economic Geography,"
NBER Working Papers
3275, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4465. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.