Regional Integration and the Persistent Uneven Spread of Economic Activities in Developing Areas
One of the striking features of many developing Regional Integration Areas (RIAs) is the strong asymmetry between countries. In this paper, we consider a three-country two-sector model in a footloose capital framework. Two of these countries are involved in a regional integration process while the third is left out of the union. They are “port-like” economies where only one region is endowed with international infrastructures, so that imports and exports between trading partners necessarily pass through this transit region. The comparative statics of our model show that better domestic transport infrastructure helps to attract a higher share of footloose activity when trade costs within the RIA are lowered, inducing a persistent uneven spread of the mobile sector between the member countries. If the domestic infrastructure levels of these countries are both raised towards a high-quality level, a convergence process is triggered to the disadvantage of the country left outside the RIA.
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