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Abstract

The paper examines the formation of free trade agreements as a network formation game. We consider an n-country model in which international trade occurs between economies with imperfectly competitive product markets. In each country, the labor market is either unionized or non-unionized. We show that, if all countries are non-unionized, the global free trade network is both the unique pairwise stable network and the unique efficient network. If all countries are unionized, the global free trade network is pairwise stable and the unique efficient network among the class of symmetric networks. If some countries are unionized while others are non-unionized, other networks apart from the global free trade network may be pairwise stable. However, the efficient network is still the global free trade network. Thus, a conflict between stability and efficiency may occur. Moreover, starting from the network in which no country has signed a free trade agreement, all sequences of networks due to continuously profitable deviations do not lead (in most cases) to the global free trade network, even when global free trade is stable.