Documentos de trabajo del Instituto Interdisciplinario de Economía Política (IIEP-BAIRES)
The global process of strengthening and harmonization of intellectual property rights (IPRs) systems has been intensive in the last twenty five years by the signing of trade agreements (TAs) that include chapters with intellectual property (IP) provisions and other non-trade-related issues. This paper provides a first exploration of whether and how the signing of TAs with IP chapters influences bilateral trade flows for a panel of 122 countries and the period 1995-2013. We address methodological issues related to the assessment of the effect of TAs on bilateral trade. We use matching econometrics to evaluate the treatment of TAs with and without IP chapters. In addition, we estimate the effects of TAs on bilateral trade in a more dynamic fashion using a panel data approach based on the gravity model. We perform our analysis for trade in low- and high-IP intensive products. We found that both types of TAs increase bilateral trade. However, TAs with no IPRs chapters have a stronger positive effect on trade, while TAs with IP chapters have a stronger effect if we include lags to consider that they might need a longer implementation time. We also found that the effects depend on the development level of countries and, to a lesser extent, on the IP intensity of products. We found a clear positive effect for developed countries, but we do not observe gains for developing countries in all sectors and to all destinations derived from TAs with IP chapters. This raises the question of whether trade gains can compensate the effort related with IP reforms.