Diffusion and PTAs

The aim of this project is to examine the diffusion processes in designing PTAs. It focuses on macro trends and pays attention to the way templates by important trading powers diffuse. It will analyse in particular the effects of EU and US trade agreements on the design of other PTAs. In addition, we will focus on specific areas, such as the mechanisms of diffusion related to enforcement mechanisms and services provisions.

Previous studies on PTA design fail to explain why countries copy provisions from some earlier PTAs, but pass over provisions from others. The sub-project (The diffusion of institutional design) explores the diffusion of PTA design over a 60-year period. It examines how PTA provisions diffuse through four possible mechanisms: competition, coercion, learning and acculturation. In particular, we will analyse to what extent countries copy provisions from the European Union (EU) and the United States.


A second subproject (Enforcement mechanisms and their diffusion) focuses on enforcement mechanisms in dispute settlement. It asks what explains variation in legalisation (and judicialisation) in PTAs and puts special emphasis on how dispute settlement provisions in PTAs diffuse. Based on DESTA and its pre-existing coding on dispute settlement we aim to push the research frontier on legalisation and diffusion in respect to legal enforcement mechanisms.


A third subproject (Diffusion and services provisions) takes a legal approach informed by the political science literature. The main focus is on South-South and North-South PTAs in services. Building upon work on services from the second phase of the NCCR, the drivers and causal mechanisms will be studied in relation to commitments in the area of services.