Getting the big picture and the small details
Hundreds of free trade agreements have been negotiated in the last decade alone. Only 14 of these agreements include the United States. Members of the European Union have completed at least 38 trade agreements with countries outside the EU and have another 15 in the queue.
In January 2009, the WTO launched a public database to house information about all the regional trade agreements notified to the WTO and to make it easier to find the official texts of the agreements.
For example, if you want to read the exact commitments made between India and Chile, you can access the agreement directly on the WTO site, which also includes links to the original sources such as the Dirección General de Relaciones Económicas Internacionales in Chile and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of India.
The database also includes useful facts and figures associated with the parties to free trade agreements. Click on a country profile to see a country’s rank in world trade, what and how much they trade by commodity group in goods and services, how much of that moves by sea or by air, and even the type and value of industrial property (patents, trademarks and industrial designs) generated in that country.
You’ll find a handy summary of that country’s tariff profile – what it charges for imported coffee, industrial equipment, or dairy products. And you can also see a summary of the duties exports from that country face in their major foreign markets.
Who’s making all the deals?
To see how countries stack up in terms of the number of agreements they’ve negotiated, click on the option to list all RTAs, and you’ll see the European Union has racked up the most by far with 38. Chile has 27, Korea has 18, and the United States is tied with China at 14. Is it race? Not really. Every country makes its own choices about what’s in their economic interest, but what’s clear is that many countries see it as a way to advance economic opportunity.
Andrea Durkin is the Editor-in-Chief of TradeVistas and Founder of Sparkplug, LLC. Ms. Durkin previously served as a U.S. Government trade negotiator and has proudly taught international trade policy and negotiations for the last fifteen years as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University’s Master of Science in Foreign Service program.