Regional trade agreements have become increasingly popular in recent years as countries seek to promote economic growth and increase trade between nations. In fact, according to the World Trade Organization, there are currently over 227 regional trade agreements in force across the globe. This article will delve into the world of regional trade agreements and explore the latest data on these agreements worldwide.
What are Regional Trade Agreements?
Regional trade agreements (RTAs) refer to treaties between two or more nations that are geographically close to one another. These agreements aim to reduce barriers to trade, such as tariffs, quotas, and other restrictions, to promote the free flow of goods and services between the member countries. RTAs can be bilateral, involving only two countries, or multilateral, involving multiple nations.
RTAs have become a popular policy tool in recent years, with countries recognizing the benefits of increased trade and economic cooperation. According to the WTO, the number of RTAs in force has increased from around 50 in 1990 to over 227 in 2021.
Latest Regional Trade Agreements Data
One of the most comprehensive sources of data on regional trade agreements is the World Trade Organization. The WTO has compiled a database of all RTAs in force worldwide, as well as those that are currently being negotiated or under consideration.
According to the WTO, the Asia-Pacific region is home to the largest number of regional trade agreements, with 84 in force as of May 2021. This is followed by Europe (47 in force), Africa (40 in force), and North and South America (33 and 23 in force, respectively).
In terms of the number of RTAs signed, the EU leads the way with 40 agreements signed with non-EU countries, followed by Switzerland (28), Chile (27), and Canada (20). The largest RTA in terms of the number of member countries is the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which was launched in January 2021 and currently has 54 member states.
Benefits and Challenges of Regional Trade Agreements
Regional trade agreements can bring numerous benefits to member countries, including increased trade and investment, job creation, and economic growth. By reducing trade barriers and increasing market access, RTAs allow for increased specialization and efficiency, leading to lower prices for consumers and greater economic competitiveness.
However, regional trade agreements also come with their fair share of challenges. For example, RTAs can create winners and losers within member countries, with some industries and workers benefiting more than others. In addition, RTAs can undermine the multilateral trading system and create a complex web of regulations and rules that can be difficult to navigate.
Regional trade agreements have become an increasingly popular policy tool in recent years as countries seek to promote economic growth and increase trade. While there are many benefits to RTAs, including increased market access and economic competitiveness, these agreements also come with their fair share of challenges. As such, policymakers must carefully weigh the costs and benefits of signing regional trade agreements, taking into account the potential impact on member countries and the wider global economy.