Preferential Trade Agreements and the World Trade System: A Multilateralist View

41 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2012

See all articles by Pravin Krishna

Pravin Krishna

Johns Hopkins University - Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS); Brown University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: February 2012

Abstract

This paper reviews recent developments in international trade to evaluate several arguments concerning the merits of preferential trade agreements (PTAs) and their place in the world trade system. Taking a multilateralist perspective, it makes several points: First, despite the proliferation of PTAs in recent years, the actual amount of liberalization that has been achieved through PTAs is actually quite limited. Second, at least a few studies point to significant trade diversion in the context of particular PTAs and thus serve as a cautionary note against casual dismissals of trade diversion as a merely theoretical concern. Equally, adverse effects on the terms-of-trade of non-member countries have also been found in the literature. Third, while the literature has found mixed results on the question of whether tariff preferences help or hurt multilateral liberalization, the picture is different with the more elastic tools of trade policy, such as antidumping duties (ADs); the use of ADs against non-members appears to have dramatically increased while the use of ADs against partner countries within PTAs has fallen. Fourth, despite the rapid expansion of preferences in trade, intra-PTA trade shares are relatively small for most PTAs; multilateral remain relevant to most member countries of the WTO.

Suggested Citation

Krishna, Pravin, Preferential Trade Agreements and the World Trade System: A Multilateralist View (February 2012). NBER Working Paper No. w17840. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2002591

Pravin Krishna (Contact Author)

Johns Hopkins University - Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) ( email )

1740 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036-1984
United States

Brown University - Department of Economics ( email )

64 Waterman Street
Providence, RI 02912
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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