Trade, Conflicts and Political Integration: Explaining the Heterogeneity of Regional Trade Agreements

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Working paper
Vincent Vicard
Issue number: 
Centre d’Economie de la Sorbonne
This paper investigates the determinants of the shape of regional trade agreements (RTAs). Because the world is constituted by independent political entities, international trade °ows take place in a system where property rights are unsecured and RTAs should be understood as regulation mechanisms. In this theoretical framework, trade and security issues interact in the formation of RTAs, so that their determinants di®er according to their level of political integration, de¯ned by their ability to promote the negotiated settlement of con°icts. Empirical results con¯rm that countries more subject to interstate disputes and naturally more opened to trade are more likely to create politically integrated regional agree- ments, such as common markets or custom unions. On the contrary, international insecurity deters less integrated agreements implying a weak institutional framework, such as preferential or free trade agree- ments.
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