Issues in Brief, No. 9, September 2009

Preferential Trade Agreements: Free Trade at What Cost?
By Rachel Denae Thrasher

September 2009 (8 pages)
Download PDF

This paper looks at the broader aspects of legal incompatibility among various agreements and argues that in the long run, increased reliance on PTAs for trade liberalizations will force countries to maintain inconsistent legal standards. The paper concludes “Going forward then, members of the multilateral trading system should abandon negotiations at the bilateral and regional level and take another look at the current Doha Round. They must recommit to negotiating and coming to agreements. Because in the long run, only a multilateral system can lead to stable, consistent and truly free trade.”

The views expressed in this paper are strictly those of the author and should not be assumed to represent the views of the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future or of Boston University.

Rachel Denae Thrasher is a Pardee Center Research Fellow whose work focuses on international trade agreements and their implications for economic development in the developing countries of Latin America. She holds both a law degree and a master’s degree in International Relations from Boston University.