Free Trade Agreements in the World Trade System: Substance and Semantics

Prema Chandra Athukorala*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Over the past three decades, free trade agreements (FTAs) have become an integral and enduring part of the global trading system. The number of FTAs notified to the World Trade Organization increased from 19 in 1990 to 292 by January 2019.1 However, debate on the economic case for following the FTA path as an alternative to multilateral and unilateral trade liberalisation is far from settled. The purpose of this note is to assess key themes of this policy debate. The focus is solely on the economic rationale of FTAs, even though political considerations play a key role in the proliferation of FTAs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-20
Number of pages8
JournalForeign Trade Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


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