Preferential Trading Arrangements

Richard Baldwin

in The Oxford Handbook on The World Trade Organization

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199586103
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

 Preferential Trading Arrangements

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Preferential trading agreements have been important features of the world trade system since the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was created in 1947. The challenges and contributions to this system have, however, evolved over the decades. For the first fifty years of the GATT and the World Trade Organization (WTO), regional trade agreements (RTAs) were mainly, or exclusively, about preferential tariff reduction. The traditional, preference-centric perspective, however, is no longer sufficient, but this traditional view nevertheless forms the core of received wisdom on RTAs and their relationship with the WTO. This article examines the political economy of regionalism and argues that regionalism is creating new rules governing international commerce, including international trade. These are being decided outside of the WTO in a setting of massive power asymmetries and without basic principles of non-discrimination and reciprocity in concessions. The article also discusses multilateralism, multilateral trade negotiations, the juggernaut effect, and the domino theory of regionalism.

Keywords: preferential trading agreements; World Trade Organization; regionalism; multilateralism; regional trade agreements; political economy; international trade; multilateral trade negotiations; juggernaut effect; domino theory

Article.  8671 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; International Relations ; Political Economy

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