Multilateralizing regionalism: Lessons from the EU experience in relaxing rules of origin

Over the last fifteen years or so the world trading system has witnessed the dramatic emergence and rise of regional or preferential trading agreements (RTAs/PTAs). This appears to be a significant shift away from the principle of multilateralism that the world trading system has been built around since the Second World War. There are a number of posited reasons for this emergence of regionalism, which between them suggest that liberalizing trade regionally rather than multilaterally may be easier to achieve, and that regional agreements may be able to ‘reach the parts that multilateralism cannot reach’ – i.e. that they might be able to go significantly further in key policy areas.

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