The Pros And Cons Of Free Trade Agreements

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Introduction
The member countries under World Trade Organization (WTO) must grant most-favoured nation (MFN) treatment to products of other member countries with respect to tariffs and other trade matters. The MFN principle focuses on non-discrimination against imported products from other Member countries. As per the MFN rule, member countries are required to act in accordance with their scheduled commitments on tariffs and not allowed to apply tariffs beyond the assigned levels.
Nevertheless, in certain circumstances, WTO member countries can deviate from their obligations under the MFN principle, given that they follow certain other conditions. Under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994, there exist various exceptions, which the member countries follow to depart from these obligations.
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The enabling clause allows developed countries to accord preferential tariff treatment for different categories of trading partners which would otherwise violate Article 1 of the GATT which stipulates that no GATT contracting party must be treated worse than any other.
On the other hand, the nature of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) is inconsistent with the obligations because they grant countries who are party to the agreement more favourable trade benefits than the others. To make sure, these arrangements are trade-enhancing, one such exception under GATT is Article XXIV focusing on special exceptions for FTAs. An FTA is one of the several options available to WTO members wishing to pursue integration beyond that which is possible in a multilateral trade
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