Selecting Partner Countries for Preferential Trade Agreements: Experimental Evidence from Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Vietnam

International Studies Quarterly. DOI: 10.1093/isq/sqv024

Posted: 4 Dec 2017 Last revised: 12 Dec 2017

See all articles by Gabriele Spilker

Gabriele Spilker

ETH Zurich - Center for Comparative and International Studies

Thomas Bernauer

ETH Zurich

Víctor Umaña

ETH Zurich Center for Comparative and International Studies; World Trade Institute; INCAE Business School

Date Written: February 18, 2016

Abstract

Preferential trade agreements (PTAs) constitute the most rapidly growing form of trade liberalization in the global economy. In contrast to, for example, the World Trade Organization, PTAs allow for discrimination among potential partner countries. This helps explain their proliferation. But it also raises an important question: which countries are preferred partners for PTAs? On the presumption that public opinion matters—both normatively and analytically—for trade policy, we study what types of countries citizens prefer for PTAs. We focus on developing countries, as they both play an increasingly important role in the expanding global network of PTAs and also remain understudied in the literature on international cooperation and trade policy. To account for the multidimensionality of PTA partner country choice, we develop and test a theoretical framework through conjoint experiments embedded in national surveys in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Vietnam. The results show that, despite starkly divergent national contexts, citizens in all three countries opt for similar partner countries. Respondents prefer culturally similar countries, democracies, and countries that maintain high environmental and labor standards. Somewhat surprisingly, economic size and geographic distance prove less important in the choice of which countries to support as PTA partners.

Suggested Citation

Spilker, Gabriele and Bernauer, Thomas and Umaña, Víctor, Selecting Partner Countries for Preferential Trade Agreements: Experimental Evidence from Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Vietnam (February 18, 2016). International Studies Quarterly. DOI: 10.1093/isq/sqv024. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3080263

Gabriele Spilker (Contact Author)

ETH Zurich - Center for Comparative and International Studies ( email )

Haldeneggsteig 4
Zürich, 8092
Switzerland

Thomas Bernauer

ETH Zurich ( email )

Center for Comparative and International Studies
Building IFW, office 45.1, Haldeneggsteig 4
Zurich 8092, 8092
Switzerland
+41 44 632 6466 (Phone)
+41 44 632 1289 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ib.ethz.ch

Víctor Umaña

ETH Zurich Center for Comparative and International Studies ( email )

Haldeneggsteig 4
Zürich, 8092
Switzerland

World Trade Institute ( email )

Hallerstrasse 6/8
Berne, CH-3012
Switzerland

INCAE Business School ( email )

Alajuela
Costa Rica

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