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Antonis Adam, Mr. James McHugh, and Mr. Theodora Kosma
This paper explores the effectiveness of the Central European Free Trade Area (CEFTA) and the Baltic Free Trade Area (BFTA). Estimates from a gravity model and bilateral trade data support the view that both CEFTA and BFTA helped expand regional trade and limit the emergence of a "hub-and-spoke" relationship between the CEECs and the European Union (EU). These empirical conclusions carry some important policy implications for the "second wave" of prospective EU members among Southeastern European Countries (SEECs). The paper argues that the SEECs should reconsider their bilateral approach to trade liberalization and move towards a multilateral free-trade area as exemplified by both the CEFTA and BFTA.
Mr. Kangni R Kpodar and Patrick A. Imam
This paper assesses how regional trade agreements (RTAs) impact growth volatility on a worldwide sample of 170 countries with data spanning the period 1978-2012. Notwithstanding concerns that trade openness through RTAs can heighten exposure to shocks, in particular when it leads to increased product specialization, RTAs through enhanced policy credibility, improved policy coordination, and reduced risk of conflicts can ease growth volatility. Empirical estimations suggest the benefits outweigh the costs as RTAs are consistently associated with lower growth volatility, after controlling for trade openness and other determinants of growth volatility. Furthermore, regression results also suggest that countries that are more prone to shocks are more likely to join a RTA, in particular with countries with relatively less volatile growth, additionally enhancing the stabilization effect.