Regional integration arrangements : static economic theory, quantitative findings, and policy guidelines

Source: RePEc

ABSTRACT The author reviews the static theory of regional integration arrangements, identifying and analyzing the impact of such arrangements on the trade and welfare of member countries, nonmember countries, and the world at large. He develops eight policy guidelines that apply mainly to small trading countries unable to influence their international terms of trade or to cease trading entirely with nonmember countries, assuming increasing cost conditions in member countries, homogeneous traded goods, and perfect competition. The guidelines advise establishing regional facilities for compensatory lump-sum transfers or other intrabloc payments to avoid the possibility that, where a trading bloc would be welfare-improving overall, the bloc would not be formed because of the (justified) recalcitrance of one or more would-be member countries whose economic welfaremight be reduced by the adoption of the regional trade arrangement. Other guidelines are appropriate on commonsense grounds. For example: Regional trade arrangements will be welfare-improving if they are formed by countries that are predominantly least-cost producers of exportable, or if they give rise to increased imports from all trading partners. Yet few if any extant customs unions or free trade areas meet such simple guidelines fully. To some extent, customs unions and free trade areas are expected to result in cessation of trade (in homogeneous goods) with nonmember countries. Where trade between member countries and nonmember countries is expected to continue under regional arrangements ( as real-world data suggest), internationally determined terms of trade rather than regionally determined terms of trade are likely to prevail within the trading bloc, limiting the welfare-improving effects of creating trade but not the welfare-reducing effects of trade diversion. Among the most interesting and arguably"operational"policy guidelines to emerge from the author's analysis are those concerning countries that might choose to join 1) a large rather than small regional trading bloc, 2) a regional integration arrangement to overcome hindrances facing exports to third countries, or 3) a regional integration arrangement that could have strong pro-competitive effects under imperfect competition and increasing returns to scale. Guidelines 1 and 2 concern mostly developing countries, guideline 3 concerns mostly advanced countries. But the economic bases for the three guidelines are relevant and compelling.

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    ABSTRACT: After protracted and difficult negotiations, agreement was recently reached on the dimensions of a South African-EU free trade deal. Because of South Africa's prominence in the sub-region, implementation of this agreement will have an impact not only on South Africa, but on all the SADC economies. This paper traces how this impact may be felt over time, using a multi-region model constructed to focus on the determination of sectoral and geographic trade patterns. By separatelymodeling South Africa and the rest of southern Africa, the model can be used to evaluate how alternative SADC regional trade strategies can influence how the EU deal affects the region's economies; by distinguishing among major trading partners (EU, North America, East Asia), the simulations can help illuminate how the trade deal will likely affect current trade patterns The empirical results lead to a number of conclusions: (1) trade creation dominates trade diversion for the region under all FTA arrangements; (2) the rest of southern Africa benefits from an FTA between the EU and South Africa — the recently signed bilateral agreement is not a “beggar thy neighbor” policy; (3) the rest of southern Africa gains more from zero-tariff access to EU markets than from a partial (50 percent) reduction in global tariffs; and (4) the South African economy is not large enough to serve as a growth pole for the region. Access to EU markets provides substantially bigger gains for the rest of southern Africa than does access to South Africa.
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    ABSTRACT: The proliferation of regional trade agreements (RTAs) has motivated a significant number of ex post econometric studies investigating their agricultural trade impacts. The general conclusion is that RTAs increase members’ trade by as much as 150%, on average. In this article, we demonstrate that previous empirical work likely misrepresents the impact of RTAs because of considerable heterogeneity in the depth of economic integration pursued by these agreements. Contrary to previous studies, the results reveal that RTAs are not universally trade creating, and some agreements appear to provide very little benefit. “Deep integration agreements,” on the other hand, are largely responsible for the impressive agricultural trade flow increases reported in the literature. Testing the hierarchy of RTAs largely confirms the theory: the benefits of regionalism are an increasing function of the depth of economic integration.
    Agricultural Economics 01/2013; 44(1). DOI:10.1111/j.1574-0862.2012.00635.x · 1.09 Impact Factor