The Review of International Organizations

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 353–375 | Cite as

The design of international trade agreements: Introducing a new dataset

  • Andreas Dür
  • Leonardo Baccini
  • Manfred ElsigEmail author


Preferential trade agreements (PTAs) have been proliferating for the last twenty years. A large literature has studied various aspects of this phenomenon. Until recently, however, many large-N studies have paid only scant attention to variation across PTAs in terms of content and design. Our contribution to this literature is a new dataset on the design of trade agreements that is the most comprehensive in terms of both variables coded and agreements covered. We illustrate the dataset’s usefulness in re-visiting the questions if and to what extent PTAs impact trade flows. The analysis shows that on average PTAs increase trade flows, but that this effect is largely driven by deep agreements. In addition, we provide evidence that provisions that tackle behind-the-border regulation matter for trade flows. The dataset’s contribution is not limited to the PTA literature, however. Broader debates on topics such as institutional design and the legalization of international relations will also benefit from the novel data.


Preferential trade agreements New regionalism Institutional design Dataset Trade flows Gravity model 

JEL Classifications

F140 F150 F5 



All authors have contributed equally to the paper. We are grateful to the NCCR Trade Regulation ( for financial support and our research assistants for help in collecting the data for this paper. Special thanks go to Karolina Milewicz for her support in the larger project. Todd Allee, Richard Baldwin, Tim Büthe, Jappe Eckhardt, Jeff Kucik, Marcelo Olarreaga, Ron Rogowski, Michael Zürn and participants of the ECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops at the University of Antwerp provided helpful comments on previous versions of this paper. We also wish to thank Raymond Hicks for kindly assembling the gravity model data. For more information on the DESTA dataset, see

Supplementary material

11558_2013_9179_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (160 kb)
(PDF 160 KB)
11558_2013_9179_MOESM2_ESM.dta (34.6 mb)
(DTA 34.6 MB)
11558_2013_9179_MOESM3_ESM.dta (153.5 mb)
(DTA 153 MB) (10 kb)
(DO 9.55 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of SalzburgSalzburgAustria

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