|A series on Trade|
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A trade bloc is a type of intergovernmental agreement, often part of a regional intergovernmental organization, where regional barriers to trade, (tariffs and non-tariff barriers) are reduced or eliminated among the participating states.
One of the first economic blocs was the German Customs Union (Zollverein) initiated in 1834, formed on the basis of the German Confederation and subsequently German Empire from 1871. Surges of trade bloc formation were seen in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as in the 1990s after the collapse of Communism. By 1997, more than 50% of all world commerce was conducted under the auspices of regional trade blocs.
Economist Jeffrey J. Scott of the Peterson Institute for International Economics notes that members of successful trade blocs usually share four common traits: similar levels of per capita GNP, geographic proximity, similar or compatible trading regimes, and political commitment to regional organization.
Advocates of worldwide free trade are generally opposed to trading blocs, which, they argue, encourage regional as opposed to global free trade. Scholars and economists continue to debate whether regional trade blocs are leading to a more fragmented world economy or encouraging the extension of the existing global multilateral trading system.
Trade blocs can be stand-alone agreements between several states (such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or part of a regional organization (such as the European Union). Depending on the level of economic integration, trade blocs can fall into different categories, such as: preferential trading areas, free trade areas, customs unions, common markets and economic and monetary unions.
|Trade bloc||Population||Gross domestic product (USD)||Members|
|Common markets, Economic and Monetary unions|
|Customs and monetary unions|
|Preferential trade areas and Free trade areas|
|Regional bloc||Free Trade Area||Economic and monetary union||Free Travel||Political pact||Defence pact||Other|
|Customs Union||Single Market||Currency Union||Visa-free||Border-less|
|EU||in force||in force7||in force2||in force 1||in force||in force
(Schengen 1, 7 and CTA 1)
|in force||in force
(NATO 1, 7 and CFSP/ESDP 1)
|ESA 1, 7|
|EFTA||in force||in force2, 7||in force||in force 1, 7||in force 1, 7||ESA 1, 7|
|CARICOM||in force||in force||in force 1||in force 1 and
|in force 1||proposed||proposed||NWFZ|
|AU||ECOWAS||in force 1, 3||in force 1||proposed||in force 1 and
proposed for 2012 1 and
|in force 1||proposed||proposed||in force||NWFZ1|
|ECCAS||in force1||in force1||proposed||in force1||in force||in force||NWFZ1|
|EAC||in force||in force||proposed for 2015||proposed for 2012||proposed||?||proposed for 2015||NWFZ1|
|SADC||in force1||in force1||proposed for 2015||de-facto in force 1 and proposed common for 2016||proposed||NWFZ1|
|COMESA||in force1||proposed for 2010||?||proposed for 2018||NWFZ1|
|Common||proposed for 2019||proposed for 2019||proposed for 2023||proposed for 2028||proposed for 2028||NWFZ1|
|UNASUR||MERCOSUR||in force||in force||proposed for 2015||in force||proposed for 2014||NWFZ|
|CAN||in force||in force 1||proposed1||in force||NWFZ|
|Common||proposed for 2014 4||proposed for not after 2019||proposed for 2019||proposed for 2019||in force||proposed for 2019||proposed||in force||NWFZ|
|EurAsEC||in force1||in force1||proposed for 20121||Proposed||in force||in force 1|
|AL||GCC||in force||proposed for 2012||proposed||proposed 1||in force|
|Common||in force1||proposed for 2015||proposed for 2020||proposed||proposed|
|ASEAN||in force 5||proposed for 2015||proposed 8||in force||proposed for 2015||proposed for 2020||NWFZ|
|CAIS||in force1||proposed||?||in force1||in force1||proposed||NWFZ|
|NAFTA||in force||in force 1, 7|
|SAARC||in force 1, 6|
|PIF||proposed for 20211||NWFZ1|
1 not all members participating yet
2 involving goods, services, telecommunications, transport (full liberalisation of railways from 2012), energy (full liberalisation from 2007)
3 telecommunications, transport and energy - proposed
4 sensitive goods to be covered from 2019
5 least developed members to join from 2012
6 least developed members to join from 2017
7 Additionally some non member states also participate (the European Union, EFTA and NATO have overlapping membership and various common initiatives regarding the European integration).
8 Additionally some non member states also participate (ASEAN Plus Three)
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