Regional Integration: The Next Wave
Chapter by Marion Jansen, Sebastian Klotz and Jasmeer Virdee in Andreas Klasen (ed.) Handbook of Global Trade Policy, published by John Wiley & Sons (2020), pp. 270-307
The nature and extent of trade has changed over time as transport technologies, production technologies and the rules of trade have evolved. As briefly discussed by Goldstein and van Lieshout in Chapter 7 of this Handbook, the multilateral trade rules currently governing world trade are a relatively recent phenomenon from a historical perspective. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2017. Before the existence of the GATT, international trade was largely governed by bilateral treaties among a limited numbers of players and by power relationships resulting from colonialism. The shift in global power relationships in the aftermath of World War II opened the door for a new set of rules for trade that ended up being multilateral in nature.