Regional Rules in the Global Trading System

The proliferation of regional trade agreements (RTAs) over the past two decades has led to the relationships between regional and WTO rules or disciplines becoming increasingly complex.

A major obstacle to advancing the understanding of RTAs is the absence of detailed information about their contents. This limits empirical analysis of their economic effects and policy debate between those who view RTAs as discriminatory instruments hostage to protectionist interests and those who see them as conducive to multilateral opening. In response, contributors to this book provide analytical mappings of RTA rules in six key areas — market access, technical barriers to trade, contingent protection, investment, services and competition policy — across dozens of the main RTAs. The information collected sheds light on the interplay between regional and multilateral trade rules, advances empirical work on the economic effects of RTAs and informs the policy debate on ways to deal with their burgeoning number.

  • Systematic analysis of the contents of RTAs allows the authors to compare the regional rules with existing multilateral agreements under the WTO

  • Includes detailed tables and charts of RTA rules in key areas, thus offering empirical data to readers wishing to embark on detailed analysis of RTAs

  • Surveys the economic literature relating to whether RTAs benefit or hinder multilateral liberalisation, offering readers a review of the economic theory of regionalism to complement the empirical analysis of RTA rules.

Published in 2009

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