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International Trade Law : Research Guide

Introduction

Regional trade organizations are multilateral arrangements focused around a geographical area. The goal of a regional trade organization is the liberalization of international trade between the member nations. Regional trade agreements generally take on one of four forms: free trade areas, customs unions, common markets and economic unions. Free trade areas occur when member countries eliminate tariffs and trade barriers, but maintain individual foreign trade policies. In customs unions, member countries eliminate tariffs and create a common external trade regime. With a common market, regional integration includes trade as well as free movement of all aspects of production. An economic union represents the coordination of all the economic policies of the member countries.

This section of the guide presents resources relating to the rise and development of regional trade organizations generally. Following that are discussions and resources for a selection of regional trade organizations. There are numerous other regional trade organizations in all areas of the world and it is possible to find information about them in some of the resources listed in the general information section.