In recent years, the central question relating to regional trade agreements has been whether or not they have led to a new form of economic cooperation by promoting deeper integration in the regulatory structures of the participating countries. The answer to this question has profound implications for the future of multilateral cooperation through the World Trade Organization (WTO) and international economic relations generally. Regionalism, Multilateralism, and Economic Integration examines a number of very different regional agreements and finds that there is no one model for what constitutes deeper integration. Each of the agreements under review is the result of an attempt to achieve very different policy objectives. The result is that any assessment of the success or otherwise of a regional agreement should be made in the light of the objectives of the agreement concerned. At the same time, however, each of the agreements can be evaluated in terms of whether they contribute positively or negatively to the goals of the rules based multilateral trading system or otherwise.
The authors conclude that regional trade agreements have indeed led to deeper integration in a number of fields, and that the regional processes and rules have been consistent with the multilateral obligations of the parties to the agreements. They find that recent agreements are generally more effective in facilitating trade and improving transparency than the more remote WTO procedures. Most agreements restate the obligations of the parties to the World Trade Organization Agreements. In this sense, the WTO rules constitute a floor that underpins additional commitments in the regional agreements.
Gary P. Sampson was appointed Director at the GATT in 1987 and in 1995 Director at the WTO. He is presently Professor of International Economic Governance at the Institute of Advanced Studies at the United Nations University and Senior Counsellor at the WTO. He teaches at the Melbourne Business School and INSEAD in France. Stephen Woolcock is a Lecturer in International Relations at the London School of Economics, where he teaches international political economy, economic diplomacy, and the politics of international trade. He also helps to run the International Trade Policy Unit at the LSE, which conducts research on current trade issues and runs in service programmes for trade negotiators.
Part 1: Setting the Scene • Introduction • A Framework of Analysis for Regulatory Policy in Regional Trade Agreements • Part 2: Case Studies in Regional Agreements • Association Agreement between the EU and Poland • EU – Mexico Agreements • Euro Mediterranean Agreements • NAFTA • Chile – Canada Free Trade Agreement • Australia New Zealand Closer Economic Forum • Part 3: Horizontal Case Studies • Food Safety and Eco-Labeling Regulations • Regulations Confronting Trade in Services • Part IV: Conclusions • Policy Implications