A free trade area refers to a group of two or more customs territories in which tariffs and other restrictive trade rules … as far as all trade between the constituent areas of products originating in these regions is concerned. Report on the Treatment of Medical Devices in Regional Trade Agreements (ATR) This asymmetry is reinforced by the large volume and importance of regional agreements.66We should go no further than recalling the European Union, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), MERCOSUR and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). These agreements have a strong impact on trade between their members and are only four of the hundreds of bilateral and multilateral agreements, which are essentially an exception to the GATT`s cardinal rule of non-discrimination. Concerns have therefore been expressed that such agreements “undermine the transparency and predictability of trade relations”. 67 The report once again misses the opportunity to discuss, pragmatically, in the way in which developing countries can be made aware of trade, but on an equal footing with their counterparts institutionally.96 Repeated failures to conclude a round of negotiations in Doha and, later, in Bali, show that institutional and collective reluctance to approach internal transparency as a serious matter entails high costs that threaten the main task of the WTO. This institutional reluctance is evident in the Sutherland report. The theme of green space is hardly discussed. Instead, the need for confidentiality of negotiations, a discussion on variable geometry and a gospel for the current negotiating agreements, which perpetuate internal deficits of transparency and are relatively archaic, are emphasized by the days of the GATT. To date, 258 regional trade agreements and 26 preferential trade agreements have been notified under the gatt/WTO and are in force either between countries (majority) 21 or between countries and existing PTAs and customs unions22. The limited scope of the case law is considered unsurprising23, particularly given the complex landscape these agreements create and the content of Article XXIV and others.
The burden of the initial proof of a section XXIV complaint and its correspondence is easily met; All RTAs and PTA are by definition deviations from the Most Favored Nation rule. Since the burden of proof is passed on to the defendant, it is up to the defendant to demonstrate that the ZEP or RTA is consistent with its GATT obligations. The lack of adequate monitoring mechanisms also contributes to this confusion and restraint. Definitions can be contained in the next section. This article refers to all non-WTO trade agreements as preferential trade agreements and regional trade agreements and, in some cases, free trade agreements. The exact differences between the three are briefly discussed in the next section. This article also uses the term “preferential trade agreements” instead of “preferential trade agreements.” The GATT uses the term “agreements,” but I say that the two terms can be used interchangeably in this context. At the 10th Ministerial Conference in Nairobi in 2015, WTO members adopted a ministerial declaration agreeing to work to transform the current interim transparency mechanism into a permanent mechanism, without prejudice to notification obligations.