Trade regionalism in 2006. What reality, which dangers ?

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The movement of proliferation of regional trade agreements (RTA), since the creation of the WTO, stands out from precedent movements thanks to its dynamism, the intertwining of agreements (bilateral, regional and multilateral), and the ambition displayed in these agreements and the involvement of countries with a similar development level and countries with diverging development levels. Yet, this rise of regionalism must be put in perspective: the movement is not that dramatic (it often concerns small economies and the agreements are not always correctly applied) and it was not born out of a will to organise exchanges in a regional, rather than multilateral, framework. The main hazards of regionalism lie in the difficulty and the managing cost of RTAs, especially for small countries, and in the confusion they may create in the rules. WTO member States must then look out for a certain consistency between multilateral and regional frameworks.

AFRI 2007 Summary

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