There is a renewed emphasis on fostering regional integration processes in the belief that this is good for development and poverty reduction. Unfortunately, a framework to map regional integration (RI) onto poverty does not exist, although there is a lot of research that is directly relevant. The evidence has never been put together into a single framework to address the links between RI and poverty. The purpose of this book is to provide such a framework. It is hoped that such a mapping exercise will inform those responsible for regional trade policy with respect to the presence of such links and where available with respect to the effects of available policy options on poverty. The resulting mapping should also be useful in identifying a checklist of areas relevant to assess the impact of RI on poverty in individual countries.
The book is in three parts: Part I deals with conceptual issues and evidence so far. The aim is to provide a theoretical structure or mapping of regional integration on poverty. Part I argues that much evidence is based on multi-country or multi-region studies, deals with averages and fails to identify which provisions in which regional trade agreements (RTAs) have what effect (on trade, FDI, poverty etc.) in which country. Studies that examine the effects of regional integration often use simple dummy variables to describe regions. This is problematic for those who want to negotiate the best possible type of region: in reality no region is the same and some guidance is required on best-practices in provisions in RTAs. For many other links we do not have evidence at all.
In part II, trade and investment provisions in several key regions are measured and the way in which these these affect investment is discussed. The chapter confirms and describes that regional provisions differ markedly across RTAs and across time.
Part III addresses the effects of regional integration on poverty in two countries (Bolivia and Tanzania). This provides a good test of the mapping structure set out in part I.
The chapters in this book were presented at the ODI conference on Regional Integration and Poverty in London on 3 September 2004.
Regional Integration and Poverty, Overseas Development Institute (ODI), London, UK, 230 pp.