Trade Agreements

Two farmers sifting rice. Vietnam.

Trade agreements lower barriers to trade and can boost trade among the partners. In recent years there has been a rapid increase in the number of preferential trade agreements (PTAs) signed and implemented both at the bilateral and regional levels. These can be in the form of unilateral and non-reciprocal arrangements or reciprocal commitments for establishing free trade areas or customs unions. The proliferation of agreements has changed and complicated the landscape of trade relations. A key task therefore is to draw out commonalities among agreements and promote harmonization of rules with a view to facilitate their consolidation. ESCAP helps countries negotiate agreements that promote inclusive growth and development by providing advice and training. ESCAP is also the secretariat to the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) - the oldest preferential trade agreement between developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Agreements Database (APTIAD), maintained by ESCAP, provides a useful tool for policy-makers and researchers to monitor and analyze the development of trade agreements in the region.