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World Trade Organization: Publication on Regional Trade Agreements

(Mar. 5, 2009) The World Trade Organization recently published a collection of papers based on a conference, “Multilateralizing Regionalism,” held from September 10-12, 2007. The papers were later revised in consultation with trade scholars and analysts and members of various WTO national delegations. According to the WTO, nearly all of its members are party to at least one regional trade agreement (RTA).

The papers in the publication MULTILATERALIZING REGIONALISM: CHALLENGES FOR THE GLOBAL TRADING SYSTEM not only offer “detailed, new empirical work on the nature of the 'Spaghetti Bowl' of RTAs and the problems it poses for the multilateral trade system” but also contribute to the debate on “how to 'tame the tangle' of regional trade agreements.” (MULTILATERALIZING REGIONALISM: CHALLENGES FOR THE GLOBAL TRADING SYSTEM (Richard Baldwin & Patrick Low eds., WTO & Cambridge University Press, Feb. 2009), WTO website,
[description of publication] (last visited Feb. 25, 2009).) The 552-page work also looks at means of globalizing the benefits of regional trade liberalization.

The compilation is divided into four main parts:

  • Background to Regionalism;
  • Multilateralisation – Prospects and Past Experience (with chapters covering non-tariff RTAs, the EU's relaxation of rules of origin, and information technology agreement);
  • Multilateralisation – Sectors and Themes (with chapters on services provisions in RTAs, harmonization of preferential rules of origin regimes around the world, and legal means to 'multilateralising regionalism”); and
  • Multilateralisation – Regional Perspectives (with chapters on Africa, the Americas, Asia, Asia-Pacific RTAS and the WTO system, a developing country perspective on multilateralizing preferential trade agreements, and the role of the WTO in helping developing countries negotiate RTAs).

(Download of PDF Table of Contents, Foreword, and Introduction, WTO website, (last visited Feb. 25, 2009).)