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The geography of conflicts and free trade agreements

  • Mathias Thoenig

    (Centre Universitaire d'Informatique)

  • Thierry Mayer

    (Département d'économie)

  • Philippe Martin

    (Département d'économie)

We analyze the interaction of economic and political determinants of free trade agreements (FTA). In addition to standard trade gains, FTAs can promote peaceful relations by offering a political forum and by increasing the opportunity cost of conflicts that disrupt trade. If policy makers believe in such pacifying effects of FTAs, country-pairs with large trade gains from FTAs and high probability of conflict are more likely to sign a FTA. Using data on the 1950-2000 period, we show that this complementarity between economic and political gains is at work in the geography of FTAs. Country pairs characterized by a high frequency of old wars - which we use as a proxy of the probability of conflict - are shown to be more likely to sign FTAs, the more so the higher the trade gains from a FTA. These trade gains are estimated by a theory-driven empirical strategy to disentangle them from the political factors. We also show that, contrary to old wars, recent wars make it more difficult to negotiate a FTA. This suggests the existence of windows of opportunity to lock-in FTAs and peace. Finally multilateral trade openness, because it reduces the opportunity cost of a bilateral conflict, increases the political incentive to sign FTAs.

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Paper provided by Sciences Po in its series Sciences Po publications with number 7740.

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Date of creation: Mar 2010
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Handle: RePEc:spo:wpmain:info:hdl:2441/c8dmi8nm4pdjkuc9g8m2hh491
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  1. Richard Baldwin & Dany Jaimovich, 2010. "Are Free Trade Agreements Contagious?," NBER Working Papers 16084, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Paul Collier & Anke Hoeffler & Måns Söderbom, 2004. "On the Duration of Civil War," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 41(3), pages 253-273, May.
  3. Vincent Vicard, 2008. "Trade, conflicts and political integration : explaining the heterogeneity of regional trade agreements," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne bla08022, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
  4. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2009. "War and Relatedness," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0734, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  5. Fearon, James D., 1995. "Rationalist explanations for war," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(03), pages 379-414, June.
  6. Antoni Estevadeordal & Caroline Freund & Emanuel Ornelas, 2008. "Does Regionalism Affect Trade Liberalization Towards Non-Members?," CEP Discussion Papers dp0868, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  7. Guy Michaels & Xiaojia Zhi, 2010. "Freedom Fries," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 256-81, July.
  8. Martin, Philippe & Mayer, Thierry & Thoenig, Mathias, 2005. "Make trade not war ?," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) 0515, CEPREMAP.
  9. Marco Fugazza & Frédéric Robert-Nicoud, 2010. "The 'Emulator Effect' of the Uruguay Round on US Regionalism," CEP Discussion Papers dp0973, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  10. Egger, Peter & Larch, Mario, 2008. "Interdependent preferential trade agreement memberships: An empirical analysis," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 384-399, December.
  11. Céline CARRERE, 2003. "Revisiting the Effects of Regional Trading Agreements on trade flows with Proper Specification of the Gravity Model," Working Papers 200310, CERDI.
  12. Baier, Scott L. & Bergstrand, Jeffrey H., 2007. "Do free trade agreements actually increase members' international trade?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 72-95, March.
  13. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:123:y:2008:i:4:p:1531-1575 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Baier, Scott L. & Bergstrand, Jeffrey H., 2004. "Economic determinants of free trade agreements," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 29-63, October.
  15. Mansfield, Edward D. & Pevehouse, Jon C., 2000. "Trade Blocs, Trade Flows, and International Conflict," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(04), pages 775-808, September.
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