Project description

In a nutshell

The Design of Trade Agreements (DESTA) project aims to systematically collect data on various types of preferential trade agreements (PTAs). These may be customs unions, free trade agreements or partial free trade agreements (or what economists often call economic integration agreements). So far we have manually coded design features for more than 710 agreements (as of October 2020). These include fine-grained data with information on a large set of design features ranging from market access commitments, flexibility instruments, enforcement tools, to non-trade issues for the time period between 1948 and 2019.

In 2017, DESTA won the Best New Dataset Award of the International Political Economy Society.

About this website

This website has been built to create a tool for the DESTA researchers to communicate with the broader public, experts, media and researchers. In the download section, we offer various data sets for download.


DESTA started in 2009 as a project financed by the National Swiss Science Foundation (NCCR Trade Regulation) and is hosted at the World Trade Institute, an interdisciplinary institute based at the University of Bern. The initiators of the project were Andreas Dür (University of Salzburg), Manfred Elsig (WTI), Leonardo Baccini (McGill University) and Karolina Milewicz (Oxford University). Over the past years, we collected information on the existence of PTAs (and related documents) and coded manually more than 710 treaties. We periodically consolidate the database, update it and expand it through cooperation with other colleagues. The latest update was in October 2020.

How to cite

Users of DESTA are asked to cite Dür, Andreas, Leonardo Baccini and Manfred Elsig. 2014. “The Design of International Trade Agreements: Introducing a New Database”. Review of International Organizations, 9(3): 353-375. Available at here and here (pre-publication version).