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Assessing the preferences in preferential trade

July 10, 2019

Alvaro Espitia, Aaditya Mattoo, Mondher Mimouni, Xavier Pichot, Nadia Rocha 10 July 2019

Preferential trade agreements cover more than half of world trade. This column argues that while the 280 preferential trade agreements in existence have substantially widened the scope of free trade and reduced average applied tariffs, they have struggled against traditional bastions of protection in poorer countries and have not been able to eliminate the high levels of protection for a handful of sensitive products. While preference margins offered to partners in such agreements seem large, their significance shrinks when competition from both preferential and non-preferential sources is considered.

World trade is increasingly ruled by

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