Most WTO members are now also parties to regional trade agreements (ATRs). These numbers have expanded considerably in number, size and coverage, and their numbers continue to increase. It is estimated that more than half of world trade is now done under preferential trade agreements. RTAs exist on every continent. Among the best known are the European Union, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the East and South African Common Market (COMESA). Deep trade agreements are an important institutional infrastructure for regional integration. They reduce business costs and set many rules in which economies are active. If designed effectively, they can improve political cooperation between countries and thus promote international trade and international investment, economic growth and social well-being. World Bank Group Survey: The extension and scope of regional trade agreements makes it important to analyze the need for further clarification of the WTO`s system of rights and obligations with respect to regional trade agreements. There is no common agreement among WTO members on whether or not the ATRs support the development of the multilateral trading system, whether they act as building blocks or stumbling blocks.
One view is that RTAs, which generally evolve faster than the multilateral trading system, are one way to strengthen it. The positive effects of ATRs on the integration of developing countries into the global economy are also highlighted. Other members felt that, under the current circumstances, there was a need to redefine the relationship between atRs and the multilateral trading system in order to achieve better synergy between the two. A new interpretation of the rules developed 50 years ago would not be sufficient to take into account fundamental changes in the nature and extent of the geographic coverage and coverage of the RTA and its increasing overlapping membership. Finally, and above all, there is the economic dimension. Today, this goes far beyond the impact of tariff preferences on RTA members and third parties. Given the large and growing number of free trade agreements and their dual membership, it is more about the impact of regional agreements on the organization and development of world trade itself. Whatever happens in Doha, it will be one of the most important challenges facing trade leaders on all continents in the coming years.