No. 66, 2004 - Is There Any Convergence in Trade Structures Following EU Accession? Some Trade Related Aspects of Enlargement

The aim of this paper is to reveal some trade related aspects of recent enlargement of the EU with a reference to experience of the former acceding countries from Ireland to Finland. The main question to be raised here is whether joining the EU, in general and participating in a deeper economic integration, in particular (as being represented by the Single European Market /SM/ and Economic and Monetary Union /EMU/), may induce an assimilation of trade structures.
Due to time and data constraints, recent analysis is based mainly on Eurostat (Comext) trade statistics as being available on CD-ROM for the years 1988-2002 with trade classification of CN/HS. This also means that the data used for calculation here has been compiled by Eurostat on the basis of trade figures of the 15 former EU member states as reporting countries with special attention to Ireland (date of accession: 1973), Greece (1981), Portugal and Spain (1986), as well as Austria, Finland and Sweden (1995), hereinafter called as EU7.
To be comparable, exports and imports of the former EU member countries (hereafter EU15) to/from each other (i.e. intra-EU trade), as well as trade of EU15 to/from the newly joined member countries are analysed. Since these latter countries were still Candidate Countries in the period subject to recent paper, the abbreviation ’C10’ will be used throughout the text.
This time disregarding trade of the new EU members with each other (i.e. intra-C10 trade) what amounted to more than 24 billion euro in 2002 and represented about 15 per cent of their total exports, intra-EU15 plus trade with C10 will constitute the basis of the enlarged Single European Market. The share of Intra-C10 trade in this new intra-EU trade is insignificant, only less than 1.5 per cent, although potentially increasing.

The paper is available here.