Bilateral Multilateral And Regional Trade Agreements

The Rudd/Gillard government has taken a tougher stance and has only signed free trade agreements that are comprehensive and truly reduced trade barriers in areas of interest to Australia. This has proved problematic and, with the exception of two minor agreements with Malaysia and Chile, the Labor Party has not been able to conclude a major free trade agreement during its mandate. Currently, WTO members are engaged in a round of multilateral negotiations known as the Doha Development Agenda. Negotiations are currently stagnating; the four main players in the food trade (Brazil, the EU, India and the United States) have held discussions but have not yet reached an agreement. As with the net economic effects of trade creation and reorientation, the impact of regionalism on the multilateral trading system depends in part on the specifics of each ATR and the economic and political impact of the resulting trade policy changes in this area. In addition, two other arguments call for THE ATTs to be seen as support for the multilateral system or, at the very least, for global trade integration. First, regional negotiations have, in important cases, resulted in „episodes of competition liberalization“ in which excluded parties conduct multilateral negotiations to compensate for the discriminatory effects of the ATR. The final argument in favour of ATRs, particularly the „mega-regional“ agreements negotiated by President Barack Obama with partners across the Pacific and across the Atlantic, is that they are more likely than the WTO to make progress on „deep integration“ issues that should be at the heart of 21st century trade policy. In the century following the Second World War, non-discrimination and multilateralism were the pillars of the rules-based international trading system.

However, from the early 1990s on, the number of regional and bilateral trade agreements in force increased more than tenfold, from less than 20 years to 279 in 2017. Moreover, the qualitative nature of these agreements has changed, starting with the fact that the United States has renounced its strong support for multilateralism and has rallied to the trend. Subsequently, the information and communication technology (ICT) revolution has led to increasing fragmentation of trade and the continued globalization of supply chains, which has posed many new problems that trade negotiators are struggling to address. When it comes to the third basic requirement, which is that, in general, barriers should not increase for third parties, things become more complicated. Given that free trade agreements are much more widespread than customs union unions, it seems that this is not the case. With regard to free trade agreements, there is no need to negotiate a common external tariff and the tariff applicable to non-parties should not change in general. But there are other channels through which discrimination against outsiders under free trade agreements can increase. The first potential problem arises when developing countries apply tariffs below the maximum levels they should not exceed under WTO rules. This gives them the flexibility to erect barriers to third parties, while respecting or maintaining preferential tariffs for free trade partners. Mexico`s trade response to the 1994 peso crisis is a striking example, when it did so in the context of the implementation of NAFTA.

18 Other studies have shown that free trade agreement partners are more likely to use remedial measures against allegedly unfair trade (anti-dumping and countervailing duties) against outsiders than against each other. 19 Moreover, the agreement stipulated that the „reasonable period“ before the full implementation of the agreements should not exceed ten years, except in exceptional circumstances. The agreement does not seek to establish a minimum standard for „essentially all trade“, but it confirms the importance of this criterion and notes that the exclusion of „any more important sector“ reduces the forwards


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