Document Type



Presented at the 5th Inter-University Graduate Student Conference at Cornell Law School, March 2009.


Regional trading agreements are treaties entered into by states. States enter into regional trading agreements for different reasons some of which are economic, political and security reasons. Regional trading agreements (herein after RTAs) have been successful in achieving trade liberalization at a much faster speed than the World Trade Organization (herein after WTO). The most notable example of RTAs is the European Communities that has been successful to liberalize both trade in goods and services.

Members of those Regional Trading Agreements create rules of origin. Rules of origin are important in allocating the appropriate duty for imported goods. They tell the customs officer where those goods come from. If they come from a country which has a trading agreement with the importing state then the product will receive preferential treatment. The problem at the moment is that there are over four hundred Regional Trading Agreements in the world today. This proliferation of Regional Trading Agreements resulted into a lot of crisscrossing and very complicated rule of origin. The main purpose of this paper is to analyze the different possible solutions for the proliferation of Regional Trading Agreements and to propose the most realistic solution to the problem.

To perform this task the paper will be divided into three parts. The paper relied both on direct and indirect research methodologies to answer the questions posed by the research paper. The first part deals with the legal and historical background of RTAs. It answers question of why states enter into RTAs and what is the legal basis for the formation of RTAs. The second part deals with proliferation of RTAs. It answers question like are RTAs stumbling blocks or building blocks to the multilateral trading system. It also describes the causes of proliferation of RTAs and the possible solutions. The third part deals with the conclusions and recommendations. It tells the reader the overall conclusion of the paper and the best solution proposed.

Date of Authorship for this Version

April 2009


Regional trading agreements