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Insiders versus Outsiders: Preferential Trade Agreements, Trade Distortions, and Militarized Conflict

Journal of Conflict Resolution

Published online on


A growing literature examines the link between preferential trade agreements (PTAs) and peace among member states. However, despite the potentially competitive nature of these agreements, there has been little research examining whether and how PTAs could induce hostilities between members and nonmembers. In this article, I argue that dyadic conflict is more likely when one dyad member’s exclusive PTA with a third party results in lower exports for the dyad member that is excluded from the agreement. Importantly, I contend that trade creating as well as trade diverting PTAs can have this effect. I use a triadic extension of the gravity model of trade to estimate how an exclusive PTA influences the exports of nonmembers relative to PTA members. Using these estimates in statistical tests of dyadic militarized interstate dispute onset spanning 1961 to 2000, I find that PTA-induced trade distortions are associated with a higher likelihood of conflict between members and nonmembers.