Effects of Regional Trade Agreements on Trade in Agrifood Products: Evidence from Gravity Modeling Using Disaggregated Data

Sampath Jayasinghe, Rakhal Sarker
September 2004  [04-WP 374]

The recent proliferation of regional trade agreements (RTAs) has intensified the debate on their merits. A growing literature has addressed this policy debate, focusing on the welfare and trade effects of RTAs and their likely impacts on the multilateral trading system. Some view them as stepping-stones toward multilateral trade liberalization while others see them as stumbling blocks against free trade. The existing literature has neglected some important aspects of RTAs dealing with trade in agrifood products. This study analyzes trade creation and diversion effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on trade of six selected agrifood products from 1985 to 2000. The investigation estimates an extended gravity model using pooled cross-sectional time-series regression and generalized least squares methods. The result shows that the share of intraregional trade is growing within NAFTA and that NAFTA has displaced trade with the rest of the world. NAFTA has served to boost trade significantly among its members rather than with the rest of the world. Countries participating in NAFTA have moved toward a lower degree of relative openness in agrifood trade with the rest of the world.

Keywords: agrifood products, gravity model, NAFTA, North American Free Trade Agreement, regional trade agreements, trade creation, trade diversion.

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