Multiregionalism: defeat or victory of the World Trade Organization (WTO)




regional trade agreements, multilateral trade system, trade regionalism, trade multilateralism, WTO, MFN


Background: For years, a discussion has raged in the economic debate about whether economies should liberalize trade on preferential regional trade agreements or on a most favored nation clause (MFN, trade multilateralism) promoted by the World Trade Organization. Nowadays, all WTO member countries have concluded at least one regional trade agreement. The research focuses on regional preferential trade agreements (RTAs), which can, on the one hand, compete with the WTO but, on the other hand, support the WTO’s multilateral trading system.

Research purpose: This article aims to analyze the changes in the formation of regional trade agreements and their impact on the multilateral trading system. The research will focus on RTA analysis and answer whether RTA plays only a positive (Haberler’s theory) or maybe also a negative (Viner’s theory) role in multilateral trade liberalization.

Methods: The research methods include an analysis of the scientific literature and reports on regional trade agreements, a statistical analysis of the results from secondary sources, and a synthesis, summary, and interpretation of the data. The changes taking place in the RTA were analyzed in terms of quantity (number, dynamics), qualitative (contracts for the liberalization of goods and services), and structural (scope) in recent decades. RTA data were obtained from the WTO and UNCTAD.

Conclusions: Today, each WTO member country is simultaneously bound by a separate trade agreement with one or more other countries. The multilateral MFN is undermined by deeper RTA preferences, making the multilateral trading system less important. RTAs are developing in a way that goes beyond existing multilateral rules.


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How to Cite

Orłowska, R., Żołądkiewicz, K., & Dorożyńska, A. (2021). Multiregionalism: defeat or victory of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Studia Prawno-Ekonomiczne, 121, 245–262.




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