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Regional Trade Agreements and the Multilateral Trading System

image of Regional Trade Agreements and the Multilateral Trading System

This volume contains a collection of studies examining trade-related issues negotiated in regional trade agreements (RTAs) and how RTAs are related to the WTO's rules. While previous work has focused on subsets of RTAs, these studies are based on what is probably the largest dataset used to date, and highlight key issues that have been negotiated in all RTAs notified to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). New rules within RTAs are compared to rules agreed upon by WTO members. The extent of their divergences and the potential implications for parties to RTAs, as well as for WTO members that are not parties to RTAs, are examined. This volume makes an important contribution to the current debate on the role of the WTO in regulating international trade and how WTO rules relate to new rules being developed by RTAs.

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Services rules in regional trade agreements: how diverse or creative are they compared to the multilateral rules?

Services trade represents about one- fifth of world trade as measured by the balance of payments and about one- third based on commercial presence/ establishment. Services have not escaped the recent flurry of regional trade agreements (RTAs), but as a relatively new subject in the trade negotiations arena, they have been less affected by this trend than trade in goods. As of December 2014 there were 122 RTAs with a services component that had been notified to the WTO, compared with 235 agreements with a goods component. The growing importance of RTAs in services raises questions about the rules on services in these agreements and this chapter tries to answer two somewhat provocative questions.

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