Wednesday, January 14, 2009
The World Trade Organization (WTO) announced a new database of information on regional trade agreements (RTAs). Under Article XXIV of GATT, RTAs are permitted under certain conditions, one of which is that duties and other restrictions on commerce must not be higher or more restrictive after the creation of the RTA than before its creation. Any such RTA must be notified to the WTO. As of December 2008, some 421 RTAs have been notified to the GATT/WTO. The new database is intended to provide information about the timetable agreed in the RTA with respect to the reduction of tariffs under the RTA, as well as data on trade in goods and services at the time the RTA was formed. Presumably, this information will help the WTO members determine whether the RTAs do in fact meet the requirements of GATT Article XXIV. This information should help inform the debate as to whether RTAs do more harm than good in the liberalization of trade.
For more information about the new database, click here