The era of global multilateralism in international trade is coming to an end. The World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) Doha Round, which sought to reduce multilateral trade barriers, has been declared “dead and buried” according to certain scholars. New WTO reform efforts may be rekindled; however, the world has shifted toward international economic regionalism. The WTO defines regional trade agreements as reciprocal preferential trade agreements between two or more partners (whether or not from the same region), of which almost 300 are in force. While these agreements can be called bilateral, free, regional or preferential trade agreements, there is a more important issue than naming.
Jeremy de Beer is a CIGI senior fellow and a full professor of law at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law, where he creates and shapes ideas about technology innovation and intellectual property, as well as global trade and development.