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Regional groupings among microstates


  • Andriamananjara, Soamiely
  • Schiff, Maurice


Forming a regional grouping with neighboring nations may be one way for microstates to overcome a major problem: Because of their weak bargaining power and high fixed costs of negotiation, microstates are at a severe disadvantage in dealing with the rest of the world. They don't have the human and physical resources to unilaterally conduct the various bilateral and multilateral negotiations a developing nation typically conducts. The authors present a model in which the decision to form, expand, or join a regional club is based on reduced negotiating costs and increased bargaining power, rather than on the traditional costs and benefits of trade integration (which might be miniscule for a microstate and might even generate welfare losses). Under various conditions for entry, the model is used to determine the equilibrium group size, which is shown to be positively correlated with the number of issues to be tackled, the degree of similarity among countries, and the per-issue costs of international negotiation. They use the case of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to show the model's relevance in the real world. The countries that belong to CARICOM pooled their negotiating resources and formulated common policy stances. Despite its relatively limited impact on trade and investments, CARICOM served as a political instrument in joint negotiations on trade and investment with larger countries and regional trade blocs. By establishing a union, the CARICOM countries succeeded in making their voices heard on a variety of issues in a way none of them could have done alone.

Suggested Citation

  • Andriamananjara, Soamiely & Schiff, Maurice, 1998. "Regional groupings among microstates," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1922, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1922

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gatsios, Konstantine & Karp, Larry, 1995. "Delegation in a general equilibrium model of customs unions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 319-333, February.
    2. Schiff, Maurice, 1996. "Small is beautiful : preferential trade agreements and the impact of country size, market share, efficiency, and trade policy," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1668, The World Bank.
    3. Byron, J., 1994. "CARICOM in the post-cold war era : regional solutions or continued regional contradictions?," ISS Working Papers - General Series 18883, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.
    4. Richard Baldwin, 1993. "A Domino Theory of Regionalism," NBER Working Papers 4465, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Jeffrey A. Frankel & Shang-Jin Wei, 1995. "The new regionalism and Asia: impact and options," Pacific Basin Working Paper Series 95-10, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    6. Konstantine Gatsios & Larry Karp, 1991. "Delegation Games in Customs Unions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 391-397.
    7. Spagnolo, G., 1999. "Issue Linkage, Delegation, and International Policy Cooperation," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 9913, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    8. Inotai, Andras, 1991. "Regional integration among developing countries, revisited," Policy Research Working Paper Series 643, The World Bank.
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    Cited by:

    1. L. Alan Winters, 2000. "Regionalism and Multilateralism in the Twenty-First Century," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 2188, Inter-American Development Bank.
    2. L. Alan Winters, 2000. "Regionalism and Multilateralism in the Twenty-First Century," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 8749, Inter-American Development Bank.
    3. Hookyu Rhu & C.S. Lim Vincent & L.C. Ong Vivien, 2012. "Rethink Policy Collaboration," Staff Papers, South East Asian Central Banks (SEACEN) Research and Training Centre, number sp88.
    4. Schiff, Maurice, 2002. "Regional integration and development in small states," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2797, The World Bank.
    5. International Monetary Fund, 2005. "Eastern Caribbean Currency Union; Selected Issues," IMF Staff Country Reports 05/305, International Monetary Fund.
    6. Schiff, Maurice, 2010. "Small state regional cooperation, south-south and south-north migration, and international trade," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5297, The World Bank.
    7. Eufrocinio M. Bernabe, Jr, 2012. "Framework for Macro-prudential Policies for Emerging Economies in a Globalized Environment," Research Studies, South East Asian Central Banks (SEACEN) Research and Training Centre, number rp88.


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