Multilateralizing Regionalism: Challenges for the Global Trading System

Regional trade agreements (RTAs) have proliferated around the world in the past two decades, and now nearly all members of the WTO are party to at least one.

Besides tariffs and rules of origin regulating trade in goods, many RTAs now include provisions on services, investments, technical barriers to trade and competition rules, as well as a host of issues not directly related to trade. The geographic reach of RTAs is expanding, with transcontinental agreements spreading forcefully alongside intra-regional agreements. 'Multilateralizing Regionalism' was the title of a major conference held from 10-12 September 2007 at the WTO in Geneva. Together, the conference papers achieve two things. First, they marshall detailed, new empirical work on the nature of the 'Spaghetti Bowl' of RTAs and the problems it poses for the multilateral trade system. Second, they contribute fresh and creative thinking on how to 'tame the tangle' of regional trade agreements.

  • Revised papers benefit from discussion between 70 trade
    scholars and analysts, as well as over 100 members of the
    various national delegations of the WTO

  • Examines how to globalise the benefits of regional liberalisation,
    the key problem for policy makers who believe the post-war
    multilateral trading regime of the GATT/WTO is worth saving

  • Further advances the discussion over how to multilateralise the
    benefits of regional liberalisation.

Published in 2009

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