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Camouflaged Trade Agreements

  • Elie Appelbaum


    (Department of Economics, York University, Toronto, Canada)

  • Mark Melatos

We raise the possibility that at least some of the free trade areas observed in practice are customs unions in disguise. We distinguish between generalized and standard customs unions. While members of the former can choose different external tariff rates, members of the latter levy a common external tariff. The chief insight is that, in practice, it is typically not possible to differentiate between a generalized customs union and a free trade area. We demonstrate that generalized customs unions will be established and offer an explanation for the design of Article XXIV of the General agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

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Paper provided by York University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2012_2.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: 30 May 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:yca:wpaper:2012_2
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  1. Estevadeordal, Antoni & Freund, Caroline & Ornelas, Emanuel, 2008. "Does regionalism affect trade liberalization toward non-members ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4751, The World Bank.
  2. 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.
  3. Magee, Christopher S.P., 2008. "New measures of trade creation and trade diversion," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 349-362, July.
  4. Jayjit Roy, 2010. "Do Customs Union Members Engage in More Bilateral Trade than Free-Trade Agreement Members?," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(4), pages 663-681, 09.
  5. Caroline Freund & Emanuel Ornelas, 2009. "Regional trade agreements," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 28697, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  6. Facchini, Giovanni & Silva, Peri & Willmann, Gerald, 2012. "The Customs Union issue: Why do we observe so few of them?," CEPR Discussion Papers 9135, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Caroline Freund & Emanuel Ornelas, 2010. "Regional trade agreements: blessing or burden?," CentrePiece - The Magazine for Economic Performance 313, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  8. Martin Richardson, 1994. "Why A Free Trade Area? The Tariff Also Rises," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(1), pages 79-96, 03.
  9. Riezman, Raymond, 1985. "Customs unions and the core," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3-4), pages 355-365, November.
  10. Caroline Freund, 2010. "Third‐country Effects of Regional Trade Agreements," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(11), pages 1589-1605, November.
  11. Kemp, Murray C. & Wan, Henry Jr., 1976. "An elementary proposition concerning the formation of customs unions," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 95-97, February.
  12. Emanuel Ornelas, 2007. "Exchanging market access at the outsiders' expense: the case of customs unions," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 40(1), pages 207-224, February.
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