14 Nov 2014

Manfred Elsig addresses Europa Forum

The explosion in the number of preferential trade agreements (PTAs) since 1990, and the leading role of European countries in this trend, was a subject addressed this week by WTI Deputy Managing Director, Professor Manfred Elsig, at the autumn meeting of the Europa Forum in Lucerne.

Prof. Elsig was among leading thinkers from the fields of business, political science, politics and culture invited to speak at the international platform for debate on European issues.

He spoke about the research being conducted at the WTI into PTAs, where 600 separate agreements have been analysed within the DESTA (design of free trade agreements) project in a bid to better understand their effects.

Prof. Elsig showed that the EU has concluded the most agreements: a total of 180 trade agreements have been signed within Europe. Switzerland has in excess of 36 agreements, with the WTO average standing at 12.

Several major intercontinental agreements are currently in negotiation, notably the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the EU-ASEAN PTA.

Free goods trade, tariff reduction and less red tape are at the heart of PTAs.

Prof. Elsig said that agreements were increasingly also taking up issues such as labour and human rights and including provisions for environmentally sustainable production methods.

The Europa Forum autumn session attracted more than 1,000 participants.