Regionalism, Multilateralism, and Economic Integration: The Recent Experience

Regionalism, Multilateralism, and Economic Integration: The Recent Experience

Regionalism, Multilateralism, and Economic Integration: The Recent Experience

Regionalism, Multilateralism, and Economic Integration: The Recent Experience

Synopsis

This publication considers whether regional trade agreements have led to a new form of economic co-operation, by promoting deeper integration in the regulatory structures of participating countries. An examination of recent experiences are found to show that, although there is no single model for deeper integration, regional trade agreements have generally more effective than more remote WTO procedures in facilitating trade and improving transparency. Regional processes and rules are found to have been consistent with the multilateral obligations of each party, with additional commitments in the regional agreements complementing WTO rules.

Excerpt

The collapse of communism in Eastern Europe marked the beginning of a complex set of political and economic processes that are generally referred to as transition. Transition in the East European context means the transformation of a one-party command economy into a democratic market-based economy including the creation of supporting institutions. Agh (1998) defines this transformation as a triple transition, comprising an economic, a political and a social part. Some observers (Mayhew, 1998) would argue that another integral part of transition for historical reasons is the reintegration with Western Europe, especially for many Central and East European countries (CEECs). The perceived end-point of this process is EU membership, which would also mean full integration into the European market and adoption of EU policies and regulations. The interaction of these two processes – transition and EU integration – creates both opportunities and tensions for the countries in transition.

This chapter focuses on one CEEC – Poland – and assesses the impact of regional integration in some new issue areas of international trade policy in the transition context. The “new issues” examined are technical barriers to trade (TBTs), food safety, public procurement, services and investment.

The focus of the chapter is on the Association Agreement (also known as the Europe Agreement) between the European Union and Poland.

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