The integration processes usually start with the gradual removal of trade barriers between partners. In addition, in the course of integration processes trade liberalisation is often supplemented by the lifting of restrictions on the flow of productive factors. The main goal of such efforts is to integrate markets and structures of production of partner countries in order to reap the benefits of the international division of labour.
The development of foreign trade and the international movement of productive factors are real proofs of the progress toward integration. The more trade creation (beneficial effect of trade liberalisation) and less trade diversion (negative effect of regional integration) the customs union or free trade area bring, the more beneficial the overall effect of integration process. It should be added that a positive impact of integration on trade development and resulting changes in the structure of trade between partners may in turn further advance the integration process itself (establishing a common market, co-ordination of policies, taking on acquis communautaire).
The Commissions opinion on the East European countries application for the EU membership states that the higher degree of integration achieved prior to their accession, the more likely they are to fulfil their future obligations as the EU members. In the Commissions opinion, the level of economic integration is related to both the range and volume of goods traded between the applicant countries and the EU. Thus, the higher the level of integration at the moment of accession, the lower the likely costs of any future restructuring of national economy implied by the EU membership.
The main goal of this paper is to analyse the development of trade between Poland and the EU as well as the ongoing changes affecting specialisation in the process of external trade liberalisation. It has been assumed that the evolution of trade and division of labour between Poland and the EU between 1992 and 1996 may shed some light on the effects of the Association 1
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