Why Do Countries Seek Regional Trade Agreements?

John Whalley

in The Regionalization of the World Economy

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 1997 | ISBN: 9780226259956
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226260228 | DOI:
Why Do Countries Seek Regional Trade Agreements?

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This chapter argues that a wide range of considerations arise when countries seek to negotiate regional trade agreements. Some see trade agreements as providing underpinnings to strategic alliances, and hence implicitly form part of security arrangements (as in Europe). Smaller countries see trade agreements with larger partners as a way of obtaining more security for their access to larger country markets (as in the Canada–U.S. Free Trade Agreement). Some countries have tried to use regional (and multilateral) agreements to help lock in domestic policy reform and make it more difficult to subsequently reverse (Mexico in the North American Free Trade Agreement). Regional trade arrangements around the world are thus different one from another, not the least because countries have different objectives when they negotiate them. This chapter also looks at the regional trade agreements notified to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the World Trade Organization (WTO) and in operation as of January 1, 1995, and included in a recent WTO volume on regionalism.

Keywords: regional trade agreements; strategic alliances; security; Canada–U.S. Free Trade Agreement; North American Free Trade Agreement; domestic policy; General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade; World Trade Organization

Chapter.  12010 words. 

Subjects: International Economics

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