Assessing the Effect of Joining the World Trade Organization on Trade Performance: A Study of CIS Countries

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This research delves into the impact of World Trade Organization (WTO) membership on trade dynamics in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region, focusing on the potential augmentation or diversion of trade resulting from CIS countries’ WTO accession. The study context is grounded in the interplay between regionalism, represented by regional trade agreements and historical connections, and global integration facilitated by WTO membership. The study also scrutinizes the potentially complicating role of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) regional bloc, referencing the ‘Spaghetti Bowl’ phenomenon of overlapping trade agreements. The gravity model of trade serves as a conceptual foundation to understand the effects of WTO membership and regional trade agreements on trade costs. Empirical results suggest that WTO membership has not enhanced trade for the CIS. Instances of trade within the CIS region where there is only one WTO member have resulted in a positive trend, even though there is no robust evidence that it is due to WTO membership. The EAEU enhances trade and serves as a trading bloc within the region. This study highlights that while the WTO strives to foster trade liberalization and growth, its effects can be region-specific and complex, as demonstrated by the CIS region’s experience. The research also hints at the importance of intra-regional trade and unique regional factors as critical determinants of trade patterns, which can enhance broader trade expansion and economic development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number236
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • bilateral trade
  • Commonwealth of Independent States
  • Eurasian Economic Union
  • free trade agreements
  • gravity model
  • World Trade Organization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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