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Forget About the WTO: The Network of Relations between Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs) and 'Double PTAs'

39 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2014 Last revised: 30 May 2014

Joost Pauwelyn

Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID); Georgetown University Law Centre

Wolfgang Alschner

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Date Written: February 5, 2014

Abstract

The very definition of "preferential trade agreements" (PTAs) channels our almost exclusive attention to the relation between PTAs and the WTO. Successive PTAs between the same countries -- which we call "double PTAs" -- have largely escaped legal scrutiny. Think of the United States and Mexico first concluding NAFTA and then the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) or other "mega-regionals" currently under negotiation such as the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite in Africa or Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in Asia. We offer four reasons why the limits imposed by WTO rules on PTAs and plurilateral trade agreements must not be overrated. This should redirect attention away from the WTO-PTA relation toward relations between PTAs. We then describe the current network of PTAs in force, its structure and centrality features -- using basic methods of network analysis -- and also assesses the frequency of "double PTAs". Next we analyse the possible reasons to conclude "double PTAs" and assess ways in which successive PTAs involving the same countries can inter-relate in legal terms.

Keywords: regional trade agreements, plurilateral trade agreements, WTO, network analysis, relation between treaties, fragmentation of international law, multilateralising regionalism

Suggested Citation

Pauwelyn , Joost and Alschner, Wolfgang, Forget About the WTO: The Network of Relations between Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs) and 'Double PTAs' (February 5, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2391124 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2391124

Joost Pauwelyn (Contact Author)

Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) ( email )

PO Box 136
Geneva, Geneva CH-1211
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://graduateinstitute.ch

Georgetown University Law Centre ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

Wolfgang Alschner

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5
Canada

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