Peter Egger, Filip Tarlea, 20 May 2017

Putting a number on how effective policymakers are in boosting cross-border trade is important. But doing so in a statistically sound way is not trivial. This column presents a new methodology to identify the causal effect of preferential economic integration agreements. It finds trade effects that are somewhat smaller than predicted by established, but problematic, procedures.

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.

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. 

Chad Bown, Patricia Tovar, 17 September 2016

Argentina and Brazil began to open their markets to the world significantly – but only partially – in the 1990s. Yet these countries’ efforts to liberalise beyond their Latin American trading partners have stalled since 1995. This column re-examines the 1990s MERCOSUR experience and raises questions over just how much trade policy cooperation these two countries have undertaken. This lack of coordination also has implications for the ‘building blocks’ versus ‘stumbling blocks’ debate in trade policy.

Swarnali Ahmed Hannan, 01 July 2016

The Trans-Pacific Partnership has renewed interest in understanding the impact of trade agreements. This column employs a new approach – synthetic controls– to understand the impact of past trade agreements. The results show that trade agreements can generate substantial gains: on average, an increase of exports by 80 percentage points over ten years. The export gains are higher when emerging markets have trade agreements with advanced markets. Interestingly, all the countries in NAFTA have gained substantially due to the agreement.

Peter Petri, Michael Plummer, 30 April 2016

The Trans-Pacific Partnership faces a serious political challenge in the US, with some viewing it as primarily benefitting the wealthy. This column argues that it will slightly favour middle- and low-income US households, while also generating substantial benefits for poorer developing countries. As with any trade agreement, the gains and losses will be asymmetrically distributed, but the gains should permit ample support for individuals adversely affected.

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.

Shujiro Urata, 16 February 2016

A series of mega-regional free trade agreements are currently being negotiated. This column argues that Japan is in a unique position to be able to negotiate with due regard for consistency among these agreements. It should thus seek to bring negotiations to a successful end and to expand and integrate the mega-regional FTAs. This will help rebuild the world trade regime so as to pave the way for achieving economic growth for the entire world.

Willem Thorbecke, 21 December 2015

A good understanding of the evolution of exports over the years is crucial for the design of trade policy. This column dissects Japanese exports using a gravity model and concludes that it would be beneficial for Japanese companies to diversify their exports by shipping more to China, Europe, and South Korea.

Wolfgang Keller, Carol Shiue, 19 December 2013

Estimating the trade effect of trade agreements is no easy task. Agreements with higher trade returns may be formed before agreements with lower returns, and comparing these naïvely could bias our estimates of the true effects. This column studies the case of the German Zollverein of 1834 to show that it is important to examine the sequence of membership to estimate the effects of trade agreements.

Bernard Hoekman, Jesper Jensen, David Tarr, 29 November 2013

Two regional trade agreements are centre of attention in Ukraine: the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU – that for the time being Ukraine has rejected – and the Eurasian Customs Union with Russia, that Ukraine has been invited (or pressured) to join. Rather than choosing between the two, Ukraine should focus on reducing policy frictions that negatively affect trade through processes that mobilise firms and industries on both sides of the border. The recent proposal by Ukraine to establish a joint commission among Ukraine, Russia and the EU to promote trade could be a step in this direction.

Michitaka Nakatomi, 15 August 2013

As the Doha Round continues to stagnate, mega FTAs such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership will likely play the leading role in trade rulemaking for some time to come, creating a 'spaghetti bowl' of trade rules. This column argues that we should multilateralise the results of mega FTAs on an issue-by-issue basis, starting with an International Supply Chain Agreement.

Masahiro Kawai, Ganeshan Wignaraja, 15 September 2009

East Asian economies adopted numerous preferential trade agreements over the last decade. This column summarises the results of a survey of firms in the region examining the effects of those trade deals. The region’s exporting manufacturers largely view trade preferences positively, though further policy action is needed to maximise the potential benefits.

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