Trade Creation and Diversion Effects of Preferential Trade Associations on Agricultural and Food Trade


  • David Lambert,

  • Shahera McKoy

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      David Lambert is Professor and Shahera McKoy former Graduate Research Assistant at the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota. E-mail: for correspondence. The authors acknowledge the financial support of the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station in conducting this research. Suggestions of the Managing Editor and two anonymous reviewers improved an earlier version of this paper and are greatly appreciated.


Agricultural market distortions remain a major focus of contention in world trade negotiations. Estimates of the effects of liberalising current agricultural trade restrictions indicate an approximately $385 billion increase in global welfare, with the disproportionate share of the benefit being enjoyed by developing countries. In response to difficulties in adopting agricultural trade reforms, individual groups of countries have formed multiple bilateral and regional preferential trade agreements (PTA) to enhance trade among members. Few sectoral analyses exist of the effects on agricultural and food product trade of PTAs. This research uses a gravity model to isolate the effects of various PTAs on both intra- and extra-bloc agricultural and food product trade for three time periods: 1995, 2000 and 2004. Findings strongly support PTA benefits in terms of increased intra-bloc trade in both sectors. The findings also generally support trade creation in agricultural products. PTA membership was also associated with food trade creation in most cases, although diversion was observed for several associations composed primarily of developing countries.