Do Regional Trade Agreements Stimulate FDI? Evidence for the Agadir, Mercosur and AFTA Regions

15 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2018

See all articles by Mondher Cherif

Mondher Cherif

University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne

Christian Dreger

European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder); IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS)

Date Written: August 2018


The integration of emerging markets into the global economy is heavily promoted by foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows. Among the factors explaining the location of FDI, regional trade agreements (RTAs) can be relevant for emerging markets, as they can promote economic integration and increase the attractiveness of the region for foreign investors. This paper investigates the impact of South–South trade agreements on the FDI decision of multinationals, where the Agadir, mercado comun del sur (MERCOSUR), and ASEAN free trade area (AFTA) agreements are considered. Three panels of countries are defined, where the members joined a specific agreement or not. Non‐Gulf Arab states are compared to better performing regions in Latin America and Southern and Eastern Asia. The analysis provides evidence that openness to foreign trade and financial markets are among the main catalysts to attract FDI, provided that business‐friendly institutions exist in the host country. Other variables, like the size of the industrial sector, urbanization rates, and external debt appear to be important in some cases. The integration of China into the world economy is a specific trigger for FDI to Asian destinations. Since RTAs influence the market size by reducing barriers to trade, their impact operates via GDP growth and openness. Gains from the agreement are striking for Latin America and Asia, but not for Arab states. To attract more FDI, business‐friendly institutional reforms and mechanisms to support new firm foundation should be implemented in this region.

Suggested Citation

Cherif, Mondher and Dreger, Christian, Do Regional Trade Agreements Stimulate FDI? Evidence for the Agadir, Mercosur and AFTA Regions (August 2018). Review of Development Economics, Vol. 22, Issue 3, pp. 1263-1277, 2018, Available at SSRN: or

Mondher Cherif (Contact Author)

University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne ( email )

51096 Reims Cedex

Christian Dreger

European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder) ( email )

Frankfurt (Oder)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) ( email )

Beijing, 100732

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