World Trade Report 2011

The WTO and Preferential Trade Agreements: From Co-Existence to Coherence

image of World Trade Report 2011

The ever-growing number of preferential trade agreements (PTAs) is a prominent feature of international trade. The World Trade Report 2011 describes the historical development of PTAs and the current landscape of agreements. It examines why PTAs are established, their economic effects, and the contents of the agreements themselves. Finally it considers the interaction between PTAs and the multilateral trading system. Accumulated trade opening - at the multilateral, regional and unilateral level - has reduced the scope for offering preferential tariffs under PTAs. As a result, only a small fraction of global merchandise trade receives preferences and preferential tariffs are becoming less important in PTAs. The report reveals that more and more PTAs are going beyond preferential tariffs, with numerous non-tariff areas of a regulatory nature being included in the agreements. Global production networks may be prompting the emergence of these "deep" PTAs as good governance on a range of regulatory areas is far more important to these networks than further reductions in already low tariffs. Econometric evidence and case studies support this link between production networks and deep PTAs.

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The state of the world economy and trade in 2010

World GDP at market exchange rates expanded 3.6 per cent in 2010, one year after an unprecedented contraction of 2.4 per cent that accompanied the financial crisis in 2009. Output of developed economies rose 2.6 per cent in 2010 after falling 3.7 per cent in 2009, while the rest of the world (including developing economies and the CIS) grew 7.0 per cent, up from 2.1 per cent in 2009.

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