Studies find that members of preferential trade agreements (PTAs) are less likely to be involved in militarized conflict. An expectation of continuing amicable trade relations is among the factors linking PTAs to peace. However, this role of PTAs is difficult to test due to the problem of observational equivalence; PTAs correlate with trade levels and liberalization, factors also linked to peace. In this article, we isolate the impact of PTAs on trade expectations by distinguishing between signed agreements and those in force. A focus on signed but not-yet-in-force PTAs allows us to assess the correlation between agreements and peace before other pacifying, and therefore potentially confounding, elements emerge. Statistical tests spanning 1957 to 2000 demonstrate that signed PTAs are pacifying, while in-force agreements have no statistically significant impact when controlling for other factors linked to peace.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Political Science and International Relations