Economic Interactions Cluster

Since the early days of regionalism, the international economic dimension has been central to its development and it remains crucial to understand its future, and that of globalisation more broadly. While international economic relations between countries remain based on international trade, in the past 25 years their most dynamic components were factor mobility, in particular international capital. In addition to trade, international investment and international migration have become fully-fledged components of globalisation and regionalism. Beyond the question of why countries trade and the impact it has on their economies, new issues have emerged, such as the impact on the volume and the structure of international economic relations of global or regional value chains, the transition from a multilateral to a multipolar world, in addition to older, yet unresolved questions, such as the impact of globalisation on income inequality.

The economic interactions cluster assesses the performance of regional organisations, and analyses the structure of international trade, investment, and migration flows. To this aim, it focuses on the impact of different institutions of regional integration on international trade, investment and migration. The cluster utilises indicators of the policy scope and the institutional structure of regional organisations to analyse the effectiveness of regional organisations using the impact of de jure on de facto economic integration.

The impact on de facto integration is considered from a more comprehensive perspective, including the effect on international investment and migration in addition to trade, in view of the contemporary relevance that international flows of capital and labour have in international economic relations between countries.

An assessment of the effectiveness of regional integration will help to understand the relevance of regional integration as a level of multilateral governance. Beyond the regional management of flows, this cluster has also an interest in the regional coordination and integration of economic policies (including the role of regions in tax policy, regional monetary cooperation and integration), as well as in the political economy of regional economic policy.

Current streams of research within the economic interactions cluster include:

  • measuring regional integration and estimating the impact of scope and structure on international trade, investment and migration
  • assessing the direct and indirect effects (i.e. on investment and migration) of international economic agreements (preferential trade agreements, bilateral investment treaties and bilateral labour agreements)
  • estimating the impact of regional integration on the relation between globalisation and redistribution within countries (the compensation hypothesis)
  • regional tax policies


The Direct and Indirect Effects of Economic Integration Agreements

  • PhD Fellow: Adelina Sharipova
  • Promotor: Glenn Rayp
  • Co-promotor: Samuel Standaert
  • Funding: FWO
    • 1 November 2020 – 31 October 2024

Completed Projects

Global and Regional Multistakeholder Institutions (GREMLIN): Multistakeholderism in International Trade Governance

  • PhD Fellow: Diana Potjomkina
  • Promotor Jan Orbie
  • Co-Promotor: Jamal Shahin
  • Funding: VUB
    • 1 December 2017 – 30 November 2021

Book project on Taxation, International Cooperation and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda

  • Editors: Irma Mosquera Valderrama, Dries Lesage and Wouter Lips, UNU Series on Regionalism, Springer, 2019-2021.

Book project on The Political Economy of New Regionalisms in the Pacific Rim

  • Editors: José Ruiz Briceño and Philippe De Lombaerde, Routledge, 2019.

GRESI: Globalisation, Regionalisation and Socio-Economic Inequality

Book project on Asymmetric Trade Negotiations

  • Editors: Philippe De Lombaerde, Diana Tussie and Sanoussi Bilal, Ashgate, 2011.

FTAs and Constitutional Rights

  • Coordinator: Philippe De Lombaerde
  • Funding: Jean Monnet Activities (European Commission), 1 Sept 2009 – 31 October 2010

The European Integration Process and its Implication to East Asia

  • Partner: Renmin University
  • Funding: Jean Monnet Activities (European Commission), 1 Sep 2008 – 31 August 2010

Regional Integration, Economic Partnership Agreements and their Impact on Employment and Labour Market Policies: An Awareness and Capacity Development Project

  • Coordinators: Bob Deacon and Karel Van Hoestenberghe
    • Funding: ILO

Book project on The Rise of Bilateralism: Comparing American, European, and Asian Approaches to Preferential Trade Agreements

  • Authors: Kenneth Heydon and Steve Woolcock, United Nations University Press, 2009.
  • 3 December 2007 – 31 March 2008

Book project on Aid for Trade: Global and Regional Perspectives: Second World Report on Regional Integration

  • Editors: Philippe De Lombaerde and Puri Lakshmi, UNU Series on Regionalism, Springer, 2009.

Book project on Multilateralism, Regionalism and Bilateralism in Trade and Investment: 2006 World Report on Regional Integration

  • Editor: Philippe De Lombaerde, UNU Series on Regionalism, Springer, 2007.

Book project on The New Economic Diplomacy

  • Editors: Stephen Woolcock and Nicholas Bayne, Ashgate, 2007.

Book project on The Periphery of the Euro: Monetary and Exchange Rate Policy in CIS Countries

  • Editors: Philippe De Lombaerde and Lucio Vinhas de Souza, Ashgate, 2006.

Book project on Trade and Investment Rule-Making: The Role of Regional and Bilateral Agreements

  • Author: Stephen Woolcock, United Nations University Press, 2006.