Regional trade agreements are multiplying and changing their nature. In 1990, 50 trade agreements were in force. In 2017, there were more than 280. In many trade agreements, negotiations today go beyond tariffs and cover several policy areas relating to trade and investment in goods and services, including rules that go beyond borders, such as competition policy, public procurement rules and intellectual property rights. ATRs, which cover tariffs and other border measures, are «flat» agreements; THE RTAs, which cover more policy areas at the border and at the back of the border, are «deep» agreements. Trade agreements open many doors. With access to new markets, competition intensifies. Increasing competition is forcing companies to produce better quality products. It also leads to greater diversity for consumers. If there are a variety of high quality products, companies can improve customer satisfaction. A free trade agreement removes all barriers to trade among members, which means that they can freely move goods and services between them. When it comes to dealing with non-members, each member`s trade policies continue to come into force. A regional trade agreement (RTA) is a treaty between two or more governments that sets the trade rules for all signatories.
Examples of regional trade agreements include the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Central American-Dominican Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), the European Union (EU) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Regional trade agreements (ATRs) now cover more than half of international trade and operate alongside global multilateral agreements under the World Trade Organization (WTO). In recent years, many countries have actively sought to conclude new bilateral and regional trade agreements, often more modern and progressive, aimed at boosting trade and economic growth. The current release of the RTA partly reflects the need for deeper integration than has been achieved through previous multilateral agreements. Member States of a Customs UnionA customs union is an agreement between two or more neighbouring countries for the removal of trade barriers, the abolition or abolition of tariffs and the abolition of quotas.