WTO members may conclude ATRs under certain conditions set out in three rules. These provisions concern the establishment and operation of customs unions and free trade areas for trade in goods (Article XXIV of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994), regional or global agreements on trade in goods between developing countries (enabling clause) and agreements on trade in services (Article V of the General Agreement on Trade in Services). In general, ATRs should essentially cover all trade, unless they are subject to the enabling clause, and contribute to a freer trade between RTA countries without creating barriers to trade with the outside world. Studies show that the WTO has boosted trade.   Surveys show that, without the WTO, the average country should expect a 32 percentage point increase in tariffs on its exports.   The dispute settlement mechanism in the WTO is a means of increasing trade.     Regional trade agreements (RSTA) are an important element of international trade relations. Over the years, ASAs have increased not only in number, but also in depth and complexity. WTO members and the secretariat are working to gather information and encourage discussions on PDOs in order to increase transparency and improve understanding of their impact on the wider multilateral trading system.
The previous WTO Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was created in 1947, after World War II, by a multilateral treaty of 23 countries following other new multilateral institutions dedicated to international economic cooperation, such as the World Bank (founded in 1944) and the International Monetary Fund (founded in 1944 or 1945). A comparable international trade institution, called the International Trade Organization, never began, since the United States and other signatories did not ratify the founding treaty, and the GATT became a de facto international organization.  In addition, the increase in the number of SAAs has led to the phenomenon of overlapping memberships. This can hinder trade flows when traders find it difficult to comply with multiple trade rules. In addition, since the scope of ITAs extends to non-multilateral areas, there is an increased risk of inconsistency between different agreements. Most of the FORMER CON Concerned only tariff liberalization and related rules, such as trade protection, standards and rules of origin. Increasingly, FDI has initiated the liberalization of services as well as obligations in the areas of services regulation, investment, competition, intellectual property rights, e-commerce, environment and labour. This could create regulatory confusion and implementation issues.
Meanwhile, preferential trade regimes (PTAs) concern unilateral trade privileges such as the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) and not reciprocal preferential programmes implemented by some WTO members for products from developing and least developed countries. Information on preferential trade arrangements notified to the WTO is available in the PTA database. . . .