Do Trade Agreements Stimulate International Trade Differently? Evidence from 296 Trade Agreements

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In a seminal article, Rose (2004) found that the assumed positive impact of the WTO on international trade was questionable. This finding has been scrutinised and modified in subsequent research, using different data sets, econometric methods and separating the WTO from other forms of trade agreements. A key characteristic of the subsequent literature is the rather simplistic way in which trade agreements are treated whereby all trade agreements are lumped together. Trade agreements come, however, in many different forms and shapes. This study addresses these differences in trade agreements. Using a unique database of 296 trade agreements, we distinguish 17 trade‐related policy domains and indicate whether the agreements contain legally enforceable commitments. This extensive and novel taxonomy of trade agreements enables us to allow for the possible heterogeneity of the impact of trade agreements on international trade. Using a gravity model, we find that trade agreement heterogeneity indeed matters for international trade and that countries experience significant trade increases due to comprehensive trade agreements even if not all participants are in the WTO.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-131
Number of pages35
JournalWorld Economy
Issue number1
Early online date29-Jun-2015
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2016

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