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Regional trade agreements (RTAs) are not new, but their importance in global economics and politics has grown exponentially in the past two decades. At the same time, RTAs have become increasingly controversial as their number, scope, and cross-cutting memberships become so complex that many fear they will undermine the World Trade Organization's multilateral trading system. Ranging from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum to the European Union to the North American Free Trade Agreement, RTAs have equally wide-ranging purposes, from improving market access to increasing clout in international negotiations.
Tackling this complexity and confusion head on, this book provides a much-needed guide to RTAs. Setting current regional agreements in their economic, political, and historical context, David A. Lynch describes and compares virtually every significant RTA, region by region. He clearly explains their intricate inner workings, their webs of collaboration and conflict, and their primary goals and effectiveness.
Lynch's deeply knowledgeable study bridges the ideological divides in scholarly and public debate, including economists' emphases on markets and efficiency versus antiglobalization activists' concerns over inequality and social ills. By building a middle ground between micro and macro analysis and clarifying technical terminology, this concise and accessible book will be an invaluable reference for all nonspecialists.