FTAs: More and broader scope
FTAs aim to reduce tariffs and non-tariff
barriers (NTBs) between partners.
While strengthening ties, economic integration is less
advanced than in a Customs Union (also
requires common external tariff) or a Common
Market with free movement of capital, labour
and people and (some) harmonisation of
During GATT (1948-1994) members notified
124 regional trade agreements (on trade in
goods). Since 1995, about 400 arrangements
for goods and services have been notified.
WTO members currently have 19 customs
unions and 238 FTAs in force (total regional
trade agreements: 431).
FTAs can vary considerably in terms of scope
and ambition, particularly for issues beyond
tariffs. Services have increasingly formed part
of trade agreements and by now the majority of
physical agreements cover both goods and
services. In addition, FTAs have been
including elements that are only partly or not
covered by WTO rules.