Trade agreements can be classified in different ways, ranging from age or
partner country characteristics, the degree of market access they foster, the
type of trade they cover, whether they require reciprocal market opening, and
potentially also looking at more political elements they include.
Breadth of trade accords is easier to capture than depth. In the first case, issue areas (e.g.
Goods, services, intellectual property) that are typically addressed in different
chapters, can serve as one proxy. Depth is more elusive: Some trade
agreements for instance contain provisions to somewhat open up labour or
capital flows bringing it closer to a common market. Also, accords can contain
provisions and set up fora for dispute settlement or establish policy dialogues in
certain areas, which can be a way to foster closer cooperation.
A recent distinction is between “classic” trade agreements which mainly focus
on liberalisation of trade in goods and “new / 2 generation accords” which
cover areas beyond trade in goods, such as services, intellectual property or
rules for investment. While still seeking tariff reductions in some areas, a key
focus is the reduction of non-tariff barriers. Basically, the 2 generation accords
are broader and deeper, the recent agreement with Canada (CETA) being one
example for this type of agreements.