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). DESTA works with a list of almost 790 agreements. So far we have manually coded design features for more than 620 agreements (as of February 2017). 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 2016.

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 within the NCCR Trade Regulation network financed by the Swiss Science Foundation. The leading house is the World Trade Institute, an interdisciplinary institute based at the University of Bern. In the first four years, we collected information on the existence of PTAs (and related documents) and coded manually 590 treaties. In the years 2013-2017, we consolidated the database, updated it and expanded it through cooperation with other colleagues.

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).