Text-As-Data Analysis of Preferential Trade Agreements
Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa
October 12, 2017 – 4:15 p.m. to 5:25 p.m.
Leacock 429, McGill University
Co-sponsored with Études empiriques en économie politique internationale
Preferential trade agreements (PTAs) form an intricate web that connects countries across the globe. In this article, we introduce a PTA text corpus and research tools for its fine-grained, automated analysis. Recent computational advances allow for efficient and effective content analysis by treating text as data. We digitize PTA texts and use textual similarity tools to assess PTA design patterns on the global, national, and chapter level. Our descriptive analysis reveals, inter alia, that PTAs are more heterogeneous as a group than, for instance, bilateral investment agreements, but that they converge in regional or inter-regional clusters of similarly worded agreements. Following our descriptive account, we provide three concrete, interdisciplinary examples of how text-as-data analysis can advance the study of trade economics, politics, and law.