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Beyond the WTO? An Anatomy of EU and US Preferential Trade Agreements


  • Henrik Horn
  • Petros C. Mavroidis
  • André Sapir


It is often alleged that PTAs involving the EC and the US include a significant number of obligations in areas not currently covered by the WTO Agreement, such as investment protection, competition policy, labour standards and environmental protection. The primary purpose of this study is to highlight the extent to which these claims are true. The study divides the contents of all PTAs involving the EC and the US currently notified to the WTO, into 14 ‘WTO+’ and 38 ‘WTO-X’ areas, where WTO+ provisions come under the current mandate of the WTO, and WTO‐X provisions deal with issues lying outside the current WTO mandate. As a second step, the legal enforceability of each obligation is evaluated, and judged on the extent to which the text specifies clear obligations. Among the findings are: (i) EC agreements contain almost four times as many instances of WTO‐X provisions as do US agreements; (ii) but EC agreements evidence a very significant amount of ‘legal inflation’ (i.e. non‐legally enforceable provisions) in the WTO‐X category, and US agreements actually contain more enforceable WTO‐X provisions than do the EC agreements; (iii) US agreements tend to emphasise regulatory areas more compared to EC agreements.

Suggested Citation

  • Henrik Horn & Petros C. Mavroidis & André Sapir, 2010. "Beyond the WTO? An Anatomy of EU and US Preferential Trade Agreements," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(11), pages 1565-1588, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:worlde:v:33:y:2010:i:11:p:1565-1588

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mavroidis, Petros, 2007. "Trade in Goods," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199239030, June.
    2. Caroline Lesser, 2007. "Do Bilateral and Regional Approaches for Reducing Technical Barriers to Trade Converge Towards the Multilateral Trading System?," OECD Trade Policy Papers 58, OECD Publishing.
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    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • K33 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - International Law


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