Countries like India that have been excluded from Regional Trading Agreements
(RTAs) for political reasons will benefit from new Negotiating Group on Rules
that require transparency mechanisms of World Trade Organization (WTO) be
implemented in RTAs. Per these new rules, WTO requires early notification of
any RTA so these agreements create building blocks for greater understanding
WTO Chief Pascal Lamy says that this rule will “help break the current logjam
in the WTO on RTAs.” He also hopes that this decision will facilitate “progress
in other areas of the talks, such as agriculture and industrial goods trade
where agreement is urgently needed".
The new structure has empowered the Committee on Regional Trade Agreements to
review RTAs falling under Article XXIV of General Agreement on Tariffs and
Trade (GATT) and Article V of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)
and to even modify this decision as a permanent mechanism of the Doha Round.
There are some 197 RTAs (including bilateral free trade agreements between
countries that are not in the same region) world and all but one WTO member are
now party to one or more of them. RTAs cover about half the world trade.