Autores: Rafael Garduño Rivera y Esteban Colla de Robertis
This study employs the synthetic control method (SCM) to estimate the economic effects of signing free trade agreements (FTAs) with the United States. This method allows for a counterfactual –the country’s per capita GDP had it not signed a FTA–, which can be compared with the observed per capita GDP. This difference speaks to the causal impact of the FTA. We principally find that FTAs seem to have a heterogeneous impact. In particular, there is evidence that signing a FTA with the U.S. had a positive impact on Chile and Jordan’s per capita GDP and that NAFTA harmed Mexico’s per capita GDP. In several other cases, no significant economic impact is discernible. Besides, the more a country depends on the U.S. for its trade, the less beneficial signing a FTA with the U.S. is. This article contributes to the debate on the effectiveness of trade as a development strategy. In particular, the SCM opens up the possibility of a “case-by-case” analysis, ultimately revealing that a FTA with the U.S.–a country situated at the world’s technology frontier–has heterogeneous outcomes and, by itself, does not guarantee economic development (obtained through a higher per capita GDP).
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