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Preferential Trade Area
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Trade Bloc

  • A trade bloc is a group of countries (or states, territories, etc) in which trade is made easier between members by removing or reducing tariffs and other barriers to trade.
  • There are 5 types of trade bloc:
    1. Preferential Trade Area
    2. Free Trade Area
    3. Customs Union
    4. Common Market
    5. Economic and Monetary Union (EMU)
Free Trade Area

  • A free trade area (FTA) is a type of trade bloc in which members have signed a free trade agreement.
  • Free trade area members improve trade between each other by heavily reducing or completely removing barriers to trade in the form of tariffs and quotas.
  • Producers can:
    • Focus on producing goods and services which they are comparatively more efficient at making.
    • Take advantage of a bigger market to export to.
    Consumers have:
    • More access to foreign goods, which can be cheaper or higher quality.
    • Increased living standards through encouraged economic development.
  • Some industries may suffer if another member has a competitive advantage.
    • For example, another country may have more fertile soil, and is able to produce and export crops for a cheaper amount than can be produced locally.
External Tariffs
  • An external tariff comprises of the tariffs and quotas applied to countries outside the free trade area.
  • Countries inside the free trade area do not need to share the same external tariffs.
  • A free trade area in which all countries do share the same external tariffs is called a customs union.
Rules of Origin
  • If a country outside the FTA wants to export goods to a country inside the FTA it will be subject to external tariffs.
  • However it is possible to get around this by:
    • Exporting to the country inside the FTA with the lowest external tariffs
    • Once the goods are inside the FTA, it can take advantage of tariff free trade to export to other countries
  • Rules of origin are the method in which external tariffs are enforced.
  • They do this by keeping track of which country a product originated from.
  • If the product originated outside of the FTA then it is not eligable for the reduced internal tariffs when traded inside the FTA.
  • However things can get more complicated if only part of the product was imported from outside of the FTA:
    • A country inside the FTA may import raw materials from a country outside the FTA
    • Once imported, the materials can be used to manufacture goods
    • These goods will then originate from the country that imported them
  • To change the origin of a product, a 'substantial transformation' must have been applied.
  • Criteria for what counts as a substantial transformation can be complex.

Preferential Trade Area

  • A preferential trade area (PTA) is a type of trade bloc in which tariffs have been reduced, but not completely removed, between members.
  • It is often the precursor to a free trade agreement (FTA), and the goal of a PTA is to form an FTA.
  • There are two types of agreement:
    • An agreement between two countries is called a bi-lateral agreement.
    • An agreement between 3 or more countries is called a multi-lateral agreement.