21st Century Regionalism: Filling the gap between 21st century trade and 20th century trade rules

This paper weaves several sets of facts into an argument that: 1) today’s trade is radically more complex, involving a “trade-investment-service nexus”, 2) this 21st century trade demanded deeper disciplines which were supplied by “21st century regionalism” while the WTO was otherwise occupied, and 3) 21st century regionalism has quite different implications for the world trading system than the traditional thinking suggests.

The paper also argues that the traditional thinking (building-stumbling-block and Vinerian economics) is not up to the job of analysing 21st century regionalism. An alternative framework is not provided, but elements a new approach should encompass are discussed.

No: ERSD-2011-08

Richard Baldwin — Graduate Institute, Geneva

Manuscript date: April 2011

Key Words:

Regionalism, multilateralism, WTO

JEL classification numbers:

F13, F15


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This is a working paper, and hence it represents research in progress. This paper represents the opinions of the author, and is the product of professional research. It is not meant to represent the position or opinions of the WTO or its Members, nor the official position of any staff members. Any errors are the fault of the author. Copies of working papers can be requested from the divisional secretariat by writing to: Economic Research and Statistics Division, World Trade Organization, Rue de Lausanne 154, CH 1211 Geneva 21, Switzerland. Please request papers by number and title.

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