In recent years, preferential trade agreements (PTAs), free trade agreements (FTAs) in particular, have proliferated while WTO negotiations have stagnated. This paper contributes to the literature on trade liberalisation and the agricultural sector by analysing the effects of FTAs on the competitiveness of the dairy sector across 76 countries and over a 20-year period from 1990 to 2009. With a longitudinal econometric model, the results demonstrate that when a country has a revealed comparative advantage in the dairy sector, FTAs positively influence several indicators of competitiveness in the dairy sector, such as production, market share and trade balance. The results also indicate that multilateral FTAs are more beneficial than bilateral FTAs. There is strong empirical evidence that FTAs are more beneficial to developed countries than to developing countries. There is no statistical evidence to support the hypothesis about a relationship between FTAs and farm-gate price.
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