Maliszewska M, Z. Olekseyuk and I. Osorio-Rodarte, March 2018, economic and distributive impacts of a comprehensive and progressive agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership: the case of Vietnam. Washington, D.C.: World Bank Group. The extension and scope of regional trade agreements makes it important to analyse the need for further clarification of the WTO`s system of tariffs and obligations with respect to regional trade agreements. There is no common agreement among WTO members on whether or not the ATRs support the development of the multilateral trading system, whether they act as building blocks or stumbling blocks. One view is that RTAs, which generally evolve faster than the multilateral trading system, are one way to strengthen it. The positive effects of ATRs on the integration of developing countries into the global economy are also highlighted. Other members felt that, under the current circumstances, there was a need to redefine the relationship between atRs and the multilateral trading system in order to achieve better synergy between the two.
A new interpretation of the rules developed 50 years ago would not be sufficient to take into account fundamental changes in the nature and extent of the geographic coverage and coverage of the RTA and its increasing overlapping membership. Most WTO members are now also parties to regional trade agreements (ATRs). These numbers have expanded considerably in number, size and coverage, and their numbers continue to increase. It is estimated that more than half of world trade is now done under preferential trade agreements. RTAs exist on every continent. Among the best known are the European Union, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the East and South African Common Market (COMESA). The issues raised in the debate on regionalism are multidimensional and interconnected. Some are primarily legal.
Thus, Article XXIV stipulates that all trade between constituent members is covered by the RTA, and the same condition is set by Article V of the GATS, which requires significant sectoral coverage in the services sector. But there is no agreement among the members on the importance of these formulations and, indeed, many agreements neglect important and sensitive areas such as agriculture and textiles. Hence the difficulties faced by WTO members in assessing the coherence of ATRs. Non-reciprocal preferential agreements involving some developing and industrialized countries require WTO members to be exempt from WTO rules. Among the best known examples of these agreements are the U.S. basin and Caribbean Basin Economic Reconstruction Act and the Cotonou Agreement recently signed by the EC and ACP countries, which will replace the Lom Agreement; exemption for the latter is still under consideration in the WTO. A regional trade agreement (RTA) is a treaty between two or more governments that sets the trade rules for all signatories. Examples of regional trade agreements include the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Central American-Dominican Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), the European Union (EU) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Online Research Documents General documents relating to regional trade agreements carry the WT/REG document code. As part of the Doha Agenda trade negotiations mandate, they use TN/RL/O (additional values needed).