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How Does Uncertainty Affect the Choice of Trade Agreements?

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  • Appelbaum, Elie
  • Melatos, Mark

Abstract

This paper analyzes how uncertainty and the timing of its resolution influence the formation and design of regional trade agreements. Two sources of uncertainty ? in demand and costs ? are considered. We compare the case in which uncertainty is resolved "early" (before tariffs are chosen), with the case in which uncertainty is resolved "late" (after tariffs are chosen). These cases are, in turn, compared with the benchmark case of no uncertainty. We demonstrate that, as long as some decisions are made after uncertainty is resolved, trade agreements have option values. These option values differ across agreements, reflecting members' different degrees of (trade policy) freedom to respond to changes in the trading environment. Moreover, these option values may be sufficiently large as to lead prospective members to opt for a more flexible trading arrangement (such as a free trade area) over a less flexible agreement (such as a customs union). Indeed, countries may even prefer to stand alone than join a free trade area under some circumstances. Finally, we show that the timing of the resolution of uncertainty can significantly impact the type of trade agreement that countries wish to form.

Suggested Citation

  • Appelbaum, Elie & Melatos, Mark, 2012. "How Does Uncertainty Affect the Choice of Trade Agreements?," Working Papers 2012-08, University of Sydney, School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:syd:wpaper:2123/8207
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Caroline Freund & Emanuel Ornelas, 2010. "Regional Trade Agreements," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 139-166, September.
    2. Raymond RIEZMAN, 2013. "Customs Unions and the Core," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: International Trade Agreements and Political Economy, chapter 3, pages 33-43 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    3. Grant, Simon & Quiggin, John, 1997. "Strategic Trade Policy under Uncertainty: Sufficient Conditions for the Optimality of Ad Valorem, Specific and Quadratic Trade Taxes," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 38(1), pages 187-203, February.
    4. Dasgupta, Partha & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977. "Tariffs vs . Quotas as Revenue Raising Devices under Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(5), pages 975-981, December.
    5. Caroline Freund & Emanuel Ornelas, 2010. "Regional trade agreements: blessing or burden?," CentrePiece - The Magazine for Economic Performance 313, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    6. Henrik Horn & Giovanni Maggi & Robert W. Staiger, 2010. "Trade Agreements as Endogenously Incomplete Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 394-419, March.
    7. Carlo Perroni & John Whalley, 2000. "The new regionalism: trade liberalization or insurance?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 33(1), pages 1-24, February.
    8. Caroline Freund, 2010. "Third‐country Effects of Regional Trade Agreements," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(11), pages 1589-1605, November.
    9. Martin, Alberto & Vergote, Wouter, 2008. "On the role of retaliation in trade agreements," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 61-77, September.
    10. Giovanni Maggi, 1999. "The Role of Multilateral Institutions in International Trade Cooperation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 190-214, March.
    11. Wilfred J. Ethier, 2002. "Unilateralism in a Multilateral World," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(479), pages 266-292, April.
    12. Jennifer Pédussel Wu, 2005. "Trade Agreements as Self-Protection," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(3), pages 472-484, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lake, James & Yildiz, Halis M., 2016. "On the different geographic characteristics of Free Trade Agreements and Customs Unions," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, pages 213-233.
    2. repec:smu:ecowpa:1403 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. James Lake, 2016. "Why don't more countries form Customs Unions instead of Free Trade Agreements? The role of flexibility," Departmental Working Papers 1601, Southern Methodist University, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Resolution of Uncertainty; Uncertainty; Customs Union; Free Trade Area; Trade Agreement;

    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
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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