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Committee On Regional Trade Agreements

8 April 2021 No Comment

I have chosen to adopt the WTO approach of using regional trade agreements for a large number of preferential trade agreements, even if they do not always involve countries in the same region. I will also use them to refer to both unions and free trade agreements, unless there is a reason to distinguish between the two. These „deep integration agreements“ aim to go beyond WTO rules, open services markets and protect intellectual property and foreign investment, and negotiate issues that have not yet been addressed in the WTO, such as competition policy, digital trade, regulatory cooperation, labour standards and environmental protection. The 2011 WTO Report on World Trade shows that previous issues, known as the WTO, are increasingly being used in the ATR and are often applicable. ATRs increasingly include WTO-class issues, often referred to as WTO X, but are more often hortatory and focus on cooperation rather than being legally applicable. 30 However, at the end of the second decade of the 21st century, the two pillars of trade negotiation appear fragile. The Doha Round is dead, but not buried, blocking a new round of more recent negotiations. The TPP is moving forward, but without the United States, and the TTIP has disappeared for now. Unlike the Great Depression, the trading system was largely maintained during and after the Great Recession of 2007/2009, but not without charges that continue to undermine political support for trade in key countries. The relevant question may not be whether regionalism or multilateralism offers the best way forward, but whether conflict will replace cooperation as a dominant force in international trade relations. In the century following the Second World War, non-discrimination and multilateralism were the pillars of the rules-based international trading system. However, since the 1990s, the number of bilateral and regional (discriminatory) trade agreements has increased sharply. The World Trade Organization (WTO) and its predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, allow such agreements to be negotiated under strict, albeit easily enforced, conditions.


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