Commentary Type

Fitting Asia-Pacific Agreements into the WTO System

Paper presented at a joint conference with the Japan Economic Foundation on "New Asia-Pacific Trade Initiatives"


It is commonplace to note the proliferation of customs unions (CUs), free trade agreements (FTAs) and kindred arrangements, often collectively called preferential trade agreements (PTAs). In fact, the number of agreements concluded between 2000 and 2007 (185) is just under half the number of agreements concluded during the twentieth century (374).1 These figures can be found in table 1. In addition to a chronological summary, table 1 provides a breakdown of PTAs by region. Countries in Europe (not including the Former Soviet Union) have concluded the most agreements (232) to date. Countries in the Americas have concluded the second most agreements (166). If we consider the Asia-Pacific region (Americas, East and South Asia, and Oceania) as a unit, the total number of concluded agreements (234) matches that of Europe.

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