Regionalism and Multilateralism in the Twenty-First Century
The growth of regional trading blocs has been one of the major developments in international relations in recent years. Virtually all countries are members of a bloc and many belong to more than one; more than one third of world trade takes place within such agreements. Regional agreements vary widely, but all have the objective of reducing barriers to trade between member countries and hence, implicitly, of discriminating against trade with other countries. Attheir simplest they merely remove tariffs on intra-bloc trade in goods, but many go beyond that to cover non-tariff barriers and to extend liberalisation to trade investment and other policies.