Steven Brakman, Harry Garretsen, Tristan Kohl, 11 May 2017

New trade deals for the UK will be an important part of the Brexit negotiations, not only with the EU but also with the rest of the world. This column argues, however, that the UK has no trade-enhancing alternative to an agreement with the EU that essentially mimics its current situation as an EU member. A gravity model predicts that the negative impact of Brexit would be only marginally offset by a bilateral trade agreement with the US, and even in the case of trade agreements with all non-EU countries, the UK’s value-added exports would still fall by more than 6%.  

Scott Baier, Yoto Yotov, Thomas Zylkin, 28 April 2017

There is a large empirical literature examining the effects of free trade agreements. However, most studies to date have focused on a common average effect across all agreements or have assumed that the effects are common across similar types of agreements. This column examines heterogeneity in the effects of free trade agreements. Along with across-agreement heterogeneity, substantial within-agreement heterogeneity is observed. The effects of a specific agreement can be starkly different for two trading partners.

Andrew Powell, José Juan Ruiz Gómez, 05 April 2017

Latin America and the Caribbean needs higher growth without increasing debt. This column, based on the new 2017 IDB macroeconomic report, argues that completing intra-regional trade integration is a low-hanging fruit. Trade deals abound, the region has advanced, but regional trade is low – current agreements are too complex and inconsistent. A bottom-up, concrete, politically viable action plan is outlined. Deeper integration would boost growth in any scenario, but the pay-off is even larger if the world becomes more protectionist.

Chang-Tai Hsieh, Nicholas Li, Ralph Ossa, Mu-Jeung Yang, 26 March 2017

Trade economists typically believe that in addition to lower prices for imported goods, trade liberalisation also brings import variety and domestic productivity gains. This column accounts for these ‘new’ gains in a careful reconsideration of the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement. Although the agreement did see improvements in Canadian income associated with import variety and domestic productivity, these were far outweighed by the welfare loss associated with the reduction in domestic variety. Nonetheless, Canadian welfare did improve overall when one takes into account the ‘traditional’ gains associated with lower import prices.

Kazunobu Hayakawa, HanSung Kim, Taiyo Yoshimi, 05 March 2017

Some exporters prefer to use most-favoured nation rates even when exporting to a fellow member of a free trade agreement. This column analyses the effect of exchange rates on the utilisation of free trade agreements, focusing on the ASEAN-Korea agreement. A depreciation of an (ASEAN) exporter’s currency against the (Korean) importer’s currency enhances utilisation rates of the trade agreement’s tariffs, with implications for the design of rules of origin. 

Paola Conconi, Manuel García Santana, Laura Puccio, Roberto Venturini, 16 March 2016

One of the more pernicious barriers to trade in today's world are so-called 'rules of origin' that should help customs officers determine a product's origin, but often serve to raise the cost of importing. In practice, such rules prevent final producers from choosing the most efficient input suppliers around the world. This column investigates the impact of rules of origin in the world's largest free trade agreement, NAFTA, on imports of intermediate goods from non-member countries. The findings show that preferential rules of origin in FTAs can violate GATT rules by substantially increasing the level of protection faced by non-members.

Angus Armstrong, 09 March 2016

The upcoming vote on the UK’s membership of the EU has sparked a vibrant debate on topics ranging from sovereignty and sterling to migrants and the military. This column discusses evidence on the economics of Britain’s EU membership drawn from a recent conference where both sides of the debate were represented. 

Tsuyoshi Kawase, 10 January 2016

An agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership has finally been reached, after many twists and turns. This column examines the new set of rules comprising the agreement, and asks whether the TPP is, as claimed, a 21st century agreement or just an expanded version of a US-style FTA. While the TPP is undoubtedly a highly ambitious agreement that includes areas unaddressed by WTO disciplines, its success rests ultimately on the dispute settlement procedures.

Susan Ariel Aaronson, 14 July 2014

The internet promotes educational, technological, and scientific progress, but governments sometimes choose to control the flow of information for national security reasons, or to protect privacy or intellectual property. This column highlights the use of trade rules to regulate the flow of information, and describes how the EU, the US, and their negotiating partners have been unable to find common ground on these issues. Trade agreements have yet to set information free, and may in fact be making it less free.

Thorvaldur Gylfason, Inmaculada Martínez-Zarzoso, Per Wijkman, 14 June 2014

The Ukraine saw EU soft power met by Russian hard power. This column argues that the EU should counter this hard power using trade policy, among other policies. EU members should agree a common policy and seek support from others to execute this policy. To date, the EU’s response has been too little, too late.

Jayant Menon, 09 June 2014

With the rise of mega-regional trade agreements, the world trade system resembles a jigsaw puzzle. This column discusses the difficulties involved in consolidating free trade agreements at the regional level, and argues that piecing together the blocs around the world will be even more challenging. A potential way forward is to return to the most widely used modality of trade liberalisation – unilateral actions – but this time involving the multilateralisation of preferences rather than unreciprocated reductions in tariff rates.

Aaditya Mattoo, 10 October 2013

The recent launch of negotiations on a transatlantic trade and investment deal has been widely welcomed by policymakers. This column warns that the aspect of the deal that provokes the greatest excitement – its focus on regulatory barriers like mandatory product standards– should evoke the greatest concern. Regional harmonisation may increase intra-regional trade yet exports from excluded developing countries could be hurt.

Jayant Menon, 14 May 2013

Are free trade agreements good for ‘Factory Asia’? This column argues that rather than supporting ‘Factory Asia’, it is more likely that fragmentation trade has prospered despite the noodle bowl of overlapping FTAs in the region. Inter-regional FTAs, on the other hand, may have been able to indirectly support the growth of production networks among existing members, if they led to increased demand for the final goods that the networks produce.

Ganeshan Wignaraja, 06 April 2013

Asia’s trade-policy landscape is set to change with the start of negotiations on a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership involving ASEAN and major regional economies. This column argues that such a deal could bring economic benefits, but that realising them depends on tackling several challenges during the negotiations and afterwards.

Kati Suominen, 20 December 2012

Free trade agreements are now the centre of gravity in global commerce. This column says they are also the likeliest pathway to multilateral trade liberalisation. With the US negotiating two mega deals – the Trans-Pacific Partnership and a US-EU free-trade agreement – China and other emerging economies will have no choice but to play by common rules of the game. It concludes that with all heavyweights joining the charmed circle, multilateral talks in Geneva will no longer be needed.

Claude Barfield, 01 August 2012

Canada and Mexico have recently been invited to join negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This column argues that this is a big deal. It could produce a domino effect, beginning with the addition of Japan and Korea and leading to a model 21st century trade area encompassing over 700 million people with a combined GDP of some $26 trillion.

Simon Evenett, 20 July 2012

Simon Evenett of the University of St Gallen talks to Viv Davies about the recent increase of protectionist measures in the world trading system. They also discuss the implications of the rise in regional trade agreements, the potential effects of Russia joining the WTO and the impact of slow growth in Europe on the region’s trade with the rest of the world. Evenett maintains that defenders of the world trading system should do more to prevent the current subordination of trade policy. The interview was recorded by telephone on 17 July 2012.

Ganeshan Wignaraja, 04 July 2012

With little end in sight for the Doha Round of trade talks, this column argues that China and India are only going to pursue more free trade agreements. It asks what can be done to make sure these agreements lead to deeper integration between these countries and the rest of the world.

Ganeshan Wignaraja, 20 October 2011

South-South trade and trade agreements are booming amid the stalled Doha trade talks and a fragile world economy. In Asia alone, trade agreements have grown from only 3 to 61 between 2000 and 2010. This column examines Asia’s experience and argues that South-South trade agreements should increase their coverage of goods and services and improve consistency with global rules to fully support South-South trade.

James Anderson, Yoto Yotov, 19 May 2011

Free trade agreements are controversial. While they promote trade between the member countries, they may also divert trade away from non-member countries, potentially reducing welfare. This column provides evidence that, even when trade diversion is taken into account, the overall effects are still strongly positive.

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