Trading Blocs: The Natural, the Unnatural, and the Super-Natural
Is the world breaking up into three trading blocs, one in the Americas, one in Europe and one in Pacific Asia? If so, is this deviation from the principle of MFN (nondiscriminatory trade policies) good or bad? This paper attempts to answer both questions. Using the gravity model to examine bilateral trade patterns throughout the world, we find evidence of trading blocs in the European Community, the Pacific, and the Western Hemisphere, as in earlier work. Intra-regional trade is greater than could be explained by natural determinants: the proximity of a pair of countries, their sizes and GNP/capitas, and whether they share a common border or a common language. Within the Western Hemisphere, MERCOSUR and the Andean Pact countries appear to function as significantly independent trading areas, but NAFTA much less so (as of 1990). The strongest grouping in most years is APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation,which includes the U.S. and Canada along with the Asian Pacific countries). The intra-regional trade bias within MERCOSUR increased the most rapidly during the 1980s. In East Asia, on the other hand, increased intra-regional trade can be explained entirely by the rapid growth of the economies. We then turn from the econometrics to an analysis of economic welfare. Krugman has supplied an argument against a world of three trading blocs (that they would be protectionist), in a model that assumes no transport costs. He has supplied another argument in favor of trading blocs, provided the blocs are drawn along the "natural" geographic lines of the continents, in a model that assumes prohibitively high transportation costs between continents. In this paper we attempt to resolve the Krugman vs. Krugman debate. We complete the model of the welfare implications of trading blocs for the realistic case where intercontinental transport costs are neither so high as to be prohibitive nor as low as the costs among neighbors. We consider three applications of the model.
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- Jeffrey A. Frankel and Shang-Jin Wei., 1993.
"Is There a Currency Bloc in the Pacific?,"
Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers
C93-025, University of California at Berkeley.
- Frankel, Jeffrey A. & Wei, Shang-Jin, 1993. "Is There a Currency Bloc in the Pacific?," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers 233208, University of California-Berkeley, Department of Economics.
- Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1993.
"Is Japan Creating a Yen Bloc in East Asia and the Pacific?,"
in: Regionalism and Rivalry: Japan and the United States in Pacific Asia, pages 53-88
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1992. "Is Japan creating a yen bloc in East Asia and the Pacific?," Pacific Basin Working Paper Series 92-09, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
- Jeffrey A. Frankel., 1993. "Is Japan Creating a Yen Bloc in East Asia and the Pacific?," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C93-007, University of California at Berkeley.
- Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1992. "Is Japan Creating a Yen Bloc in East Asia and the Pacific?," NBER Working Papers 4050, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Frankel, Jeffrey A., 1993. "Is Japan Creating a Yen Bloc in East Asia and the Pacific?," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers 233179, University of California-Berkeley, Department of Economics.
- Krugman, Paul, 1980. "Scale Economies, Product Differentiation, and the Pattern of Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 950-959, December.
- Bhagwati, Jagdish N, 1971. "Trade-Diverting Customs Unions and Welfare Improvement: a Clarification," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 81(323), pages 580-587, September.
- Hamilton, C.B. & Winters, L.A., 1992. "Opening Up International Trade in Eastern Europe," Papers 511, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
- Helpman, Elhanan, 1987. "Imperfect competition and international trade: Evidence from fourteen industrial countries," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 62-81, March.
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