Volume 46 Number 181,
April-June 2015
Art. XXIV of The gatt/wto: The Relationship
Between Regionalism and Multilateralism

Germán A. de la Reza *

Date received: August 1, 2014. Date accepted: December 3, 2014

Abstract

This work studies the interaction between regionalism and multilateralism by examining Art. XXIV of the GATT/WTO and, more generally the degree to which regional dynamics and global forces are connected, taking into account organizational factors. The results of the research suggest that multilateralism and regionalism respond to relatively autonomous systemic interests, where one is a secondary alternative to the benefits and needs of the other.

Keywords: Regionalism, multilateralism, regional agreements, world trade, free trade.

INTRODUCTION

In the wake of a long and healthy controversy, analysts and decision-makers have turned their attention once again to the relationship between regionalism and multilateralism. This renewed interest is derived from the contradiction between two processes: Regional Trade Agreements (RTA) have become increasingly prevalent as multilateral negotiations have stagnated. The key instrument connecting the two, World Trade Organization Art. XXIV, provides that customs unions and free trade areas shall not have external protections that are on the whole higher or more restrictive than the general incidence of the duties and regulations applicable prior to their formation. Since 1994, it has included stipulations limiting duty relief periods to ten years in length and provisions to increase compatibility with multilateralism, following stricter criteria. The objective is to limit the resource to RTAs and strengthen global commitments.

However, from 1994 to 2014, the number of regional agreements multiplied exponentially, and these documents now protect over half of all global trade. As of June 2014, 248 customs unions, free trade zones and preferential agreements were in force, while in the 47 years that the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was in effect, only 124 were notified, that is, exactly half. At the same time, the evolution of the multilateral agenda has been relatively accidental, as a result of failed agricultural negotiations in 2003 and, above all, the global financial crisis. This is not the only factor related to this contrast. The rise in the number of RTAs is also part of this trend. However, North-South agreements are more costly and difficult to sell politically, because they do not include reciprocity clauses such as compensation for the disadvantages of underdevelopment. Other groups of agreements tend towards bilateralism or seek to transcend geographic regions (OMC, 2012: 187).

This work studies the interaction between regionalism and multilateralism through Art. XXIV of the GATT-WTO and, in a more general sense, the connection between regional dynamics and global forces, taking into account organizational factors. The first section reviews major hypotheses regarding the regionalism/multilateralism dichotomy. The second analyzes Art. XXIV and its supporting documents, while the third offers an overview of the regulatory situation of RTAs. Sections four and five evaluate the effects of Art. XXIV, considering two variables related to the expectations of the article: the dynamics of creating RTAs and the examination of compatibility. The results of this research suggest that multilateralism and regionalism respond to relatively autonomous systemic interests, where one offers a secondary alternative to the benefits and needs of the other.



RIVALS, FRIENDS OR PARTNERS

The majority of studies on the links between multilateralism and regionalism maintain that RTAs are the second-best choice, as compared to the ideal of global liberalization. The most critical perspectives of regionalism interpret this strategy as an intrinsically discriminatory scheme (Bhagwati, 1993) that endangers the entire future of the multilateral system (Bhagwati and Panagariya, 1996). To mitigate these effects, some authors recommend that regional preferences should be extended to the rest of WTO members following a certain time period (Lee, 2011), which in fact, would be equivalent to scheduling the elimination of these preferences, a rather unrealistic option judging by the good health of regional initiatives. Another measure would be for multilateral commitments to meet the same standards of regional integration to produce a sense of convergence regarding the foundation and basis of the WTO. However, this policy could also produce counter-effects and encourage the creation or development of further regional initiatives (Fabbricotti, 2009).

Another line of thinking maintains that regionalism collaborates with multilateralism in the achievement of common objectives. According to this approach, regionalism represents “a decisive step towards strengthening multilateralism” (UNASUR, 2008), an indirect relationship, because the factors that drive regional integration to be multilaterally compatible represent an end in and of themselves. Some of these worth mentioning include: global competitiveness, the globalization of financial markets, increased consumer demand and higher mobility and technological innovation (Mistry, 1995). One idea that other authors have shared is that regionalism facilitates negotiations in areas that require highly coordinated efforts, which allows stakeholders to deepen topic coverage and prepare multilateral agendas (Krugman, 1993; Sampson, 1996; López and Soler, 1998).

The intermediate vision emphasizes that regionalism and multilateralism constitute rival, but not exclusionary, forces, because the outcome is complementarity (Michalak and Gibb, 1997). This perspective defends the idea that RTAs do not weaken the multilateral system but rather operate as the building blocks for non-discriminatory liberalization (Herz and Waner, 2011). One study that focused on the size of economies pointed out that regionalism represents a multilateral incentive if it strengthens the negotiating capacity of small countries (Nordstrom, 1995). In another study, free trade areas shared between large economies supported progress for MFN tariffs, while weakening advances for free trade areas consisting of smaller economies (Nomura et al., 2013).

One conjecture regarding trade in services ascertained that “there is no dilemma between the multilateral and regional scenarios,” because “countries sit back on their haunches knowing that both systems coexist” (Marconini, 2010: 92). This is because RTAs may not necessarily hurt third-party countries (Pant and Sadhukhan, 2009). Two conditional hypotheses address the issue of competitiveness. One says that RTAs ease multilateralism if the comparative advantages, both within and outside of the region, are similar (Kono, 2007). The other states that these agreements promote international trade except when they contain restrictions (Chen and Mattoo, 2008). Besides the disparities between these positions, the majority of authors recommend the multilateralization of regionalism as a resource to guard against the “risks of discrimination” and impacting the global system (Baldwin et al., 2009).

The final hypotheses of this section appeal to certain events to explain the proliferation of RTAs. According to Baldwin (1995), this phenomenon arose in the Americas and Europe thanks to “two idiosyncratic events.” In the Western hemisphere, the agreement between Mexico, the United States and Canada broke with the traditional method of inter-American relationships and, together with other initiatives, led to a domino effect for the creation of RTAs, principally bilateral. On the old continent, the completion of the single market produced the same effect.1

One of the quieter voices in this discussion believes that regionalism develops relatively autonomously from multilateral impulses.2 This hypothesis does not ignore the fact that channels of communication or so-called communicating vessels exist, or that regional and multilateral commitments are in some ways equivalent. However, it is still worth mentioning in this study to explain the lack of correlation between the two levels and why Art. XXIV has not been effective. The principal theoretical implication of this hypothesis is that regionalism seeks to maintain its vitality as an economic policy option through greater thematic coverage and the deepening of commitments (Kerry, 2007: 199). The tasks of the WTO may compete with or complement this path, although the WTO is essentially a collaborator in building the international economic architecture.



ART. XXIV and SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS

During the Uruguay Round negotiations, representatives of member countries observed that none of the RTAs notified to the GATT since 1947 had been censured for inconsistency. To correct this issue, attributed to the fact that the regulations were overly flexible, in 1994 the Understanding on the Interpretation of Article XXIV was approved, which aimed to determine the consistency of regional customs rights “based upon an overall assessment of weighted average tariff rates and of customs duties collected.” It recognizes that rates of duty are a basic measure, although the WTO has the power to request additional information regarding measures, regulations, coverage of products and specific trade flows. Although the period of duty relief was previously meant to be “reasonable,” the new recommendation was not to exceed ten years, “only in exceptional cases.”

This Understanding fulfilled its purpose through three directives: 1) contradictions in interpreting the regulations would be resolved by appealing to the binding decisions of the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU);3 2) agreements related to trade in services would be reviewed based on Art. V of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), which stipulates conditions similar to those of Art. XXIV, but in its own field of application;4 and 3) the contracting parties committed to periodically review the agreements to identify contradictions or violations, appealing for that purpose to the Committee on Regional Trade Agreements (CRTA), whose mandate is to review agreements and deliver reports and timely recommendations. Some of the items that the committee addresses in its reports are the consequences of agreements on the multilateral system (OMC, 1996).

These measures and instruments, whose logic clearly resides in the political economy of trade liberalization (Pant and Sadhukhan, 2009: 223), are periodically reviewed by the WTO, but the expected results have yet to be achieved. In November 2001, the Fourth Ministerial Conference held in Doha offered testimony as to this unsatisfactory balance and insisted on the importance of advancing on the issue of compatibility among agreements. That same year China became a member of the WTO, and this new membership seemed to reinforce the multilateral system, based on the economic importance of the country, which was then the seventh-highest exporter and eighth-highest importer of goods in the world (OMC, 2001). Soon after, however, the lack of consensus at the Ministerial Meeting in Cancún in September 2003 prevented progress in the realm of access to markets and trade regulations, endangering not only the future of WTO reforms, but also creating the risk that initiatives such as the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA), whose negotiating commissions had linked the agricultural chapter to WTO outcomes, would be abandoned.

The Hong Kong conference held in November 2005 and the Ministerial Declaration published in December of that year failed to navigate the pitfalls of multilateralism, while the Summit of the Americas in Mar de la Plata held almost simultaneously revealed that agricultural negotiations and efforts to revive the FTAA were waning. Russia, Samoa and Montenegro joined in December 2011, but preparations for organizing the Ninth Ministerial Conference in Bali in December 2013 were overshadowed by the global crisis.5 In response to the spread of RTAs, the WTO issued a call to action so that regional integration would complement, rather than threaten, trade multilateralism. Although the WTO acknowledges the greater coverage of some regional agreements, it asserts that the bilateral coverage of other agreements is “very often overlapping, giving rise to an increasingly complex regime of different trade regulations” (OMC, 2013).

Currently, the WTO aims to create a multilateral free trade zone by 2020, although the aftermath of the global financial crisis could postpone its creation in response to the new realities of the international system. In July 2014, the VI Summit of the group of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) agreed to create a Development Bank and Reserve Fund with initial capital of 50 billion dollars. Although the group did not mention trade objectives, its growing impact on international commerce will surely continue to influence multilateral negotiations in the agricultural sector.

The 21 countries in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC), in turn, plan to create a gigantic free trade area by 2020, composed of, among other countries, the United States, China, Russia, Japan, South Korea and Mexico.6 This will be a difficult project to make reality and it has recently lost steam, although it too will reconfigure the international system of governance of which the WTO is a fundamental part. Of these nations, China has been expanding its leadership in the formation of new Asian regionalism. The country participates in the creation of new agreements and institutions, strengthens the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and promotes the exploration of new paths to regional cooperation (Pempel, 2008).7

This could also be said of the potential impact of two mega-agreements currently being negotiated: the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). In 2006, the TPP was an agreement between relatively small economies. Following numerous rounds of negotiation and the addition of countries such as the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia and Mexico, it now constitutes an important negotiating body to enhance regulations that ease trade.8 The TTIP, meanwhile, an initiative that dates back to the failure of the Doha Round, aims to install a free trade area that would include the United States and the European Union. Annual economic gains for the United States could be as high as 95 billion euros, for the European Union, 119 billion euros, and for the rest of the world, 100 billion euros (Francois et al., 20113: vii). In June 2013, the European Commission issued its instructions for negotiating this agreement, which should be ready in 2015.9



THE SITUATION OF RTAs WITH RESPECT TO ART. XXIV

Pursuant to WTO nomenclature, RTAs are divided into three categories: free trade zones, customs unions and partial scope agreements (even though they may provide for plurilateral and bilateral coverage, they are known as regional agreements). Nearly all of the most recent agreements have been legalized before the WTO appealing to one of its three regulations:10 Art. XXIV, the Enabling Clause and Art. V of GATS, in the latter case when the agreement seeks to address trade in services.11 This would explain why the total number of notifications of real RTAs is not the same: if an agreement covers both trade in goods and trade in services, it must file two separate notifications.

Besides the number of RTAs, those currently in effect are notable for other reasons. One feature is the preponderance of tree trade zones to the detriment of other forms of integration. Customs unions have been relegated to the bottom of the list; they have a longer lifetime and tend to involve a greater number of countries. The same is true of some preferential agreements, such as the Latin American Integration Association (ALADI) or trans-regional agreements. The next characteristic is the predominance of bilateral coverage, which means that RTAs form hub-and-spoke systems in which one or more central countries simultaneously manage various preferences.12 To this we add the growing weight of North-South agreements, composed of industrialized and developing economies.13 This fact is significant, because these agreements include disparate economies and tend to require more political capital (Pant and Sadhukhan, 2009: 224).

Another feature of RTAs is the search for coverage for the greatest trade flows. In the 1990s, the recommendation underlying this policy was to integrate “natural” partners, that is, those with whom trade already accounted for 25% or more of the total (CEPAL 1994: 78).14 Over time, this trend led to this hub-and-spoke organization that concentrated RTAs in few countries. Besides the European Union, 12 hub countries are at the origin of 280 agreements, an average of 20.5 per central country. In the Western Hemisphere, there are four hub countries: United States, Mexico, Chile and Peru, which together account for 71 agreements among each other (see Table 1).

Note that these features do not elucidate the growth of international trade necessarily but rather the chance to direct trade preferences. In that sense, regardless of their economic outcomes, the majority of RTAs seem better prepared to weather economic crises than the long, uncertain and unpopular multilateral rounds. In this context, what is the role of Art. XXIV?

 

 



IS THERE A CORRELATION BETWEEN REGIONAL AND MULTILATERAL PROCESSES?

The effects of Art. XXIV and its supporting documents are diverse, non-linear and difficult to quantify. To evaluate their effectiveness, we can look at the major expectations for the article: a positive relationship between enforcement of the regulation and fewer RTAs and progress in the compatibility between RCAs and the WTO. Figure 1 classifies RTAs by five-year period and type of agreement.15 Broadly speaking, the proliferation of RTAs does not appear to have any visible relationship with: a) the slow elimination of MFN tariffs; b) the unsatisfactory results of the WTO ministerial meetings; or c) the global crisis and consequent delay, stagnation or limited advance of trade in the countries concerned. In the best of cases, we are facing a sort of inverse correlation between regional and multilateral initiatives, which would support the interpretation of regionalism as an alternative to the deficiencies of multilateralism, while also corroborating the “ineffectiveness” of Art. XXIV (Davey, 2011: 242).

 

Figure 1. Notifications of RTAs by Five-Year Period (1957-2014)*


* As of July 3, 2014. PA: Preferential agreement, CU: Customs union, FTZ: Free trade zone
Source: Created by the author based on rtais.wto.org.

 

But that still does not answer the question of why the number of RTAs seems to have permanently increased. A comprehensive answer to this question is beyond the scope of this article, although this text will sketch out a few ideas connected to two different time periods.

Period 1. In the 1990s, the regionalist and multilateralist agendas conducted their negotiations in similar timeframes and even simultaneously. This allowed for the commitments reached in one realm to be transferred to other tables. This was the case for the dispute settlement mechanism, which consisted of binding resolutions and ad hoc panels of five experts. Under this modality, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was taken to the final agreements of the Uruguay Round, the FTAA working groups and the free trade agreements between Mexico, Canada and the United States and Latin American countries. In this way, the various agendas played off each other, producing a domino effect.

Period 2. Following this period, feedback between the two levels faded, especially after 2003. From 2009 to 2014, the period in which the financial crisis took place, WTO objectives slowed down and were virtually paralyzed, while RTAs continued to function under the logic of relative autonomy. This trajectory meant that decision-making invoked the idea of regionalism as an alternative to WTO problems (UNASUR, 2008), recently illustrated by the negotiation of the TPP and TTIP, whose emphasis on easing trade (eliminating barriers and strengthening standards), harkens back to one of the postponed objectives of multilateralism.

Evolving international conditions, as well as analytical criteria, reinforce an aspect that has received little attention: organizational factors. Effectively, the four organizational features of RTAs entered into since the 1990s explain a large part of their growth: 1) the dimensions of RTAs, preferably bilateral, require the consensus of few countries; 2) they are more easily adapted to the needs of hub countries; 3) they frequently cover a limited number of topics, which makes negotiations faster; and 4) they are more sensitive to the demands of the WTO. Another reason should be added to the aforementioned four: the reduced capacity of Art. XXIV, the quintessential compatibilization tool.



EXAMINATION AND COMPATIBILITY

Thus yet another aspect important to consider: the reduced capacity of Art. XXIV. We will review this step by step. In general, RTAs advance through the following stages: in the negotiating process, signed but not in force, in force or abandoned. Ideally, a new agreement should be notified to the WTO after its ratification and before it takes effect (phases 1, 2 and 3 in Diagram 1).16 The examination (phase 5) contains three sub-phases that could be characterized as follows: Factual presentation published or distributed; factual presentation not distributed and factual presentation on hold.

 

Diagram 1.

Source: Created by the author

 

The factual presentation is a documented prepared by the Secretariat of the WTO, containing the features of the RTA, its trade environment and advantages for access to markets. This information is based on the reports submitted by member countries between 10 and 20 weeks before the notification (phase 4). If the presentation is “not distributed” or “on hold,” it could mean that negotiations either have not concluded or that some important commitment has yet to be completed. Two-thirds of RTAs have met this requirement under Art. XXIV of GATT, Art. V of GATS or the Enabling Clause. The factual abstract, meanwhile, is a less important document that summarizes the characteristics of the agreement. The WTO Secretariat also drafts this document once the RTAs have been examined. The factual abstract may be “distributed” or “not distributed,” although the majority have been published (see Table 2).

During the examination of the agreement, the Committee on Regional Trade Agreements (CRTA) monitors compliance with internally agreed commitments, gathers and summarizes information and follows up on submission deadlines for reports on the agreements. In April 2014, submission of reports was pending for 114 agreements, although their deadlines varied widely. For 10 RTAs, the deadline was in 2014, for 14 RTAs, the deadline was in 2015, for 10 RTAs in 2016, five in 2017, three in 2018 and 72 in 2019 or later. The most striking timeline was for the agreement between the European Union and the CARIFORUM States, whose deadline is 19 years away (2033). The reason for these differences depends on the transition periods of the agreements (OMC, 2014a).

 

 

Despite the fact that Art. XXIV and its supporting documents have been made more rigorous, obtaining approval for an RTA is not terribly challenging. Phases 2, 4, 5 and especially 6 require administrative effort comparable to, for example, a research report on anti-dumping. The decisive element in the assessment (average tariff or common external tariff) is less important in light of two new factors. The first is the context, which drives the viability of regionalism towards the renewal of topics and the deepening of commitments to stronger levels than what multilateralism offers. The second is that the reduced importance of tariff protections highlights the effect of non-tariff barriers, which can be controlled more effectively on the regional level. Overall, these aspects have rendered Art. XXIV rather baseless and its mission superficial.

Unsurprisingly, the legal gaps in this regulation (Davey, 2011), and in general, the lack of oversight for RTAs (OMC, 2012), have encouraged the WTO to draft recommendations to improve the “coherence” between regionalism and multilateralism. One of its recent reports suggests there are four groups of initiatives: a) lower MFN tariffs to attenuate the negative effects of regional agreements; b) correct legal gaps in the regulations; c) adopt a flexible “soft law” approach to complement existing laws; and d) multilateralize regionalism by expanding and fusing existing agreements (OMC, 2012: 189-191). However, enforcing these policies represents a challenge in and of itself, as well as reducing MFN tariffs or the expansion and merger of agreements.



CONCLUSIONS

This study on the interaction of regionalism and multilateralism through Art. XXIV points to two principal conclusions. The first is that the proliferation of RTAs responds to the relative autonomy of objectives. Organizational features favor this trend and explain, at least in part, why agreements go beyond their function as an alternative to multilateral insufficiencies or supposed rivalry. The second conclusion is that the RTA approval process under Art. XXIV and other WTO regulations does not stand in the way of regional initiatives, but rather, on the contrary, grants them a sort of certificate of acceptance before multilateral bodies. In fact, the examination, approval stages and tariff criteria impact only relatively superficial aspects of RTAs, and not the factors that directly affect their creation.

Both conclusions confirm the hypothesis that regionalism responds, above all, to relatively autonomous interests. RTAs, whether bilateral, plurilateral or trans-regional, are partners in the creation of the global economic system and this vitality augurs their survival in the near future. It should be noted that this statement does not undermine the significance of the topic addressed in the present article, nor does it rule out that other aspects are relevant. An individual analysis of agreements, for example, would reveal that the cases are evidently heterogeneous. Although this type of research goes beyond the goals and scope of this work, these studies could nuance or even invalidate the conclusions drawn herein.



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to acknowledge the observations and attentive reading of the anonymous evaluators.



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* Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Xochimilco campus, Mexico. E-mail address: delareza@hotmail.com

1 In a recent paper, Baldwin and Jaimovich (2012) assert that the domino effect is partially stimulated by “defensive” free trade agreements, that is, those created for the purpose of reducing discrimination generated by other agreements.

2 There are many followers of the hypothesis of the systemic autonomy of regionalism, especially in the realm of international relations, including: Buzan and Waever (2003: 18), Hoogensen (2005: 269), Kerry (2007: 199, ss.). For a defense of positions of the new political economy, see Hettne and Söderbaum (2000).

3 According to paragraph 12 of the document, “The provisions of Articles XXII and XXIII of GATT 1994 as elaborated and applied by the Dispute Settlement Understanding may be invoked with respect to any matters arising from the application of those provisions of Article XXIV relating to customs unions, free-trade areas or interim agreements leading to the formation of a customs union or free-trade area.” In cryptic language, what this paragraph says is that issue related to the interpretation of potential inconsistencies in agreements shall be resolved without appeal.

4 Art. V of GATS stipulates the following regulations: 1) Countries may participate in regional agreements if there is substantial sectoral coverage, defined as the number of sectors, the volume of trade affected and modes of supply. 2) all discrimination between parties shall be essentially eliminated. 3) Provide flexibility for the regulation for developing countries, both in general and for the issue of sectors and sub-sectors. 4) Do not raise the overall level of barriers to trade in services within respective sectors or sub-sectors as compared to pre-existing levels.

5 Remarks of appreciation by the chair of the General Council, Elin Johansen, to the government of Indonesia for its offer to host the Ninth Ministerial Conference on the island of Bali in 2013.

6 Other APEC members include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, Chile, Peru and Vietnam.

7 This new Asian regionalism emerged as a reaction to the conditions of the 1997-1998 financial crisis. China is frequently the hub country for one of the measures that seek to establish interdependence among the 16 countries in the region, the strengthening of intra-regional trade. Its networks have increased the share of regional exchange in total trade to levels higher than what Europe and North America had before their respective integration efforts (ADB, 2008: 40 and ss).

8 The other members of the TPP include: Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Notice that the three Latin American countries that are part of the TPP, in addition to Colombia, formed the so-called Pacific Alliance in June 2012, a scheme whose objectives are still being defined.

9 The text of the European Commission instructions was declassified in October 2014. To search the content of this text, go to http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-11103-2013-DCL-1/en/pdf

10 The list of the RTAs mentioned in the factual presentations published before June 10, 2014 included 55 agreements that were not notified, the majority of which had been around for years, 25 of which were celebrated exclusively between ALADI members (OMC, 2014b).

11 The initiative behind GATT and Art. XXIV prioritizes customs union schemes and free trade zones over non-reciprocal concessions, because the former “creates a wider trading area, removes obstacles to competition, makes possible a more economic allocation of resources and thus operates to increase production and raise planes of living,” while the preferential system “obstructs economy in production and restrains the growth of income and demand” (Wilcox, 1949: 70-71). Soon after, Viner (1950: 48) refuted this statement considering that the costs of the preferential system “can be imputed, at least potentially, to the customs unions, and inversely, since the benefits of the customs unions can also be given by the preferential unions if the circumstances are adequate.” In the 1960s, Mundell (1964) defended the same argument, although it would not be until 1979 that GATT recognized preferential agreements.

12 The term was first used in economic literature by Lipsey and Smith (1989), Kowalczk and Wonnacott (1992), to model the economic effects of United States bilateralism on the Canadian economy.

13 This hypothesis goes hand in hand with another: agreements between small economies tend to divert trade as a result of their incapacity to meet all import needs and the higher costs of production in the regional environment (Schiff, 1997, Schiff and Winters, 2004).

14 The ECLAC has overcome the regionalist concept of those years. Recently, the ECLAC has been promoting systemic interactions to accelerate economic development. In the field of integration, it remarked upon “the growing weight of emerging economies and South-South relationships in the global economy” (CEPAL, 2014: 348).

15 These statistics are based on the number of notifications, not on the number of real agreements, which may or may not be notified. Agreements may also be enrolled under different regulations, meaning that a single agreement could have two notifications if it covers both trade in goods and trade in services.

16 The time between the conclusion of an agreement and its ratification also involves a series of negotiations, especially of the ratification of one of the national congresses modifies the agreement.

Published in Mexico, 2012-2017 © D.R. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 48, Number 191, October-December 2017 is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
CP 04510, México, D.F. Tel (52 55) 56 23 01 05 and (52 55) 56 24 23 39, fax (52 55) 56 23 00 97, www.probdes.iiec.unam.mx, revprode@unam.mx. Journal Editor: Alicia Girón González. Reservation of rights to exclusive use of the title: 04-2012-070613560300-203, ISSN: pending. Person responsible for the latest update of this issue: Minerva García, Circuito Maestro Mario de la Cueva s/n, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México D.F., latest update: Nov 13th, 2017.
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