Regional Trade Agreements better suited in times of global supply chain flux

Some goods were subject to unanticipated surges in demand. These were due to Covid, but also to shift in demand resulting from work-from-home policies (the shift from food consumed away from home to food consumed at home, which led to changes in product choices and packaging requirements). Other goods and services saw decline in demand due to confinement measures or falling incomes (e.g. travel or in-person services, purchases of durable goods).

Technologies such as AI and blockchain also impact the future of trade by improving the aggregate supply for many industries, promoting lower prices and higher output. However, tech also poses a threat to trade as some may disrupt current patterns of production and trade – shortening supply chains and creating greater autonomy between individual countries.

Tech spillovers are also common; these are the unintentional technological benefits to firms that come from the R&D efforts of other firms without the costs being shared. Spillover can from advanced economies to firms in emerging economies. RTAs, particularly ‘deep’ RTAs with investment provisions, can facilitate cross-border technology spillovers through an increase in bilateral trade and FDI.

Developing countries can benefit from free trade. A free trade agreement is an understanding between two or more nations, usually within the same region, to reduce barriers to imports and exports among them. Under a free trade policy, goods and services can be bought and sold across borders with little or no government tariffs, quotas, subsidies, or prohibitions to inhibit their exchange.

Theoretically, regional trade can improve the quality of life for a nation’s citizens. Nations can import goods not readily available within their borders. Importing goods may be cheaper for a developing country than attempting to produce consumer goods or services within their borders.

The benefits of regional trade are multi-fold as it generates economic growth, reduce trade barriers, ensure the quality of goods and increase the volume of trade.


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