Handbook on International Trade Policy
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Handbook on International Trade Policy

Edited by William A. Kerr and James D. Gaisford

The Handbook on International Trade Policy is an insightful and comprehensive reference tool focusing on trade policy issues in the era of globalization. Each specially commissioned chapter deals with important international trade issues, discusses the current literature on the subject, and explores major controversies. The Handbook also directs the interested reader to further sources of information.
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Chapter 9: The Breadth of Integration Arising from Trade Agreements

Peter W.B. Phillips


Peter W. B. Phillips Introduction International trade has been and likely always will be a critical factor in the economic, social and political development of nation states. Ultimately, trade agreements and regimes integrate markets – from the earliest times to the present day, national governments and imperial powers have sought to use trade rules to bind others to their power system in order to enhance their development. The process of negotiating and enforcing international agreements has changed twice in the last century. In the early 1900s, the role of the imperial powers diminished, and individual trading countries and specific commodity groups took the initiative to define the trade system to support their national or industrial interests (Phillips 2001). This accelerated after the Second World War, with the proliferation of commodity agreements, international technical agencies and national, regional and multilateral trade agreements. While these agreements accelerated integration in selected areas, the rate and range of integration varied widely, with some sectors highly integrated (for example manufactured goods) and others largely not (for example agriculture). The signing of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement in 1995 reasserted a strong integrationist focus in trade matters, as members of the new organization henceforward were compelled to accept all of the wide-ranging international arrangements. Countries could no longer cherry-pick to comply with those arrangements that suited their own interests, while ignoring those that were less beneficial. Now, virtually all aspects of trade (and by extension, many areas that traditionally were viewed as domestic...

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