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CEP discussion paper
From final goods to inputs: the protectionist effect of rules of origin
Paola Conconi, Manuel García-Santana, Laura Puccio and Roberto Venturini December 2017
Paper No' CEPDP1525:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: F23; F53

Tags: trade agreements; rules of origin; input-output linkages

Recent decades have witnessed a surge of trade in intermediate goods and a proliferation of free trade agreements (FTAs). FTAs use rules of origin (RoO) to distinguish goods originating from member countries from those originating from third countries. We focus on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the world’s largest FTA, and construct a unique dataset that allows us to map the input-output linkages in its RoO. Exploiting cross-product and cross-country variation in treatment over time, we show that NAFTA RoO led to a sizeable reduction in imports of intermediate goods from third countries relative to NAFTA partners. Even if external tariffs are unchanged, FTAs may thus violate multilateral trade rules, by substantially increasing the level of protection faced by non-members.

'From Final Goods to Inputs: The Protectionist Effect of Rules of Origin', Paola Conconi, Manuel Garcia-Santana, Laura Puccio and Roberto Venturini, American Economic Review, 108(8), August 2018.