Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to postulate the impact of preferential trade agreements (PTAs) on internationalization strategies of member countries’ firms. The study also aims to triangulate the proposed model using empirical data from PTA partner economies. Design/methodology/approach – The mixed methods research design is used for the purpose of inquiry as suggested by Creswell. The inductive reasoning based on critical literature review and grounded theory methodology is used to postulate the model. Explanatory strength of the model is triangulated using empirical longitudinal trade data of Pakistan with her bilateral PTA partners, i.e. Malaysia, Mauritius, Iran, Sri Lanka and China. Internationalization indices are adapted following the Ietto‐Gillies and London (2009) and Petri (1994) to measure the intensity and geographical diversification dimensions of internationalization. Country‐level trade statistics are used as a proxy of firm‐level data to explain the international expansion of home firms resulting from PTAs. Findings – Empirical results confirm a strong and long‐term impact of PTAs on the intensity and extensity dimensions of internationalization over post‐agreement period in Pakistan and member economies. Gravity index depicts greater concentration of Pakistan's trade in FTA markets and thereby confirms the influence of PTAs on international market selection. Analysis at sectoral level depicts a contraction in services trade whereas expansion in the manufacturing firms’ export growth to member economies. Originality/value – The paper extends the theory of internationalization by identifying PTAs as exogenous variable influencing internationalization strategies of member countries’ firms in a developing South Asian context. Coupled with findings from empirical data, the study identifies PTAs as a new strategic trade policy tool available to policy makers for promoting and influencing the home firms’ internationalization strategies.
South Asian Journal of Global Business Research – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 25, 2014
Keywords: MNEs; Degree of internationalization; New trade theory; Preferential trade agreements (PTAs); Strategic trade policy
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