This chapter examines the different regional arrangements that have emerged around the globe. It considers whether there has been a uniform process of regional cooperation and integration across all continents, the driving forces in the establishment of various forms of regional cooperation, and the extent to which cooperation at the regional level changes the nature of international politics. After clarifying the various concepts and definitions associated with regionalism, the chapter discusses relevant developments in the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe. In particular, it looks at regional arrangements in Eurasia and the post-Soviet states. It also explores the process of European integration as well as the similarities and the differences among the various regional arrangements, with particular emphasis on the unique circumstances that shaped the emergence of the European Union. There is an Opposing Opinions box that asks whether regional cooperation strengthens the state.
Edward Best and Thomas Christiansen
This chapter assesses regional trade agreements (RTAs). The number of RTAs has grown rapidly since the World Trade Organization (WTO) came into existence in 1995. Roughly one-half of world trade is now conducted within these preferential trade arrangements, the most significant exception to the WTO's principle of non-discrimination. Governments have entered regional economic agreements motivated by a variety of political and economic considerations. They may prefer trade liberalization on a regional rather than a global basis for several reasons. The chapter then reviews the political economy of regionalism: why RTAs are established; which actors are likely to support regional rather than global trade liberalization; the effects that regionalism has had on the trade and welfare of members and non-members; and the relationship between liberalization at the regional and global levels.