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Abstract

Regional trade agreements (RTA's) have become a fixture in the global trade arena. Their advocates contend that RTA's can serve as building blocks for multilateral trade liberalization. Their opponents argue that these trade pacts will divert trade from more efficient nonmember producing countries. U.S. agriculture can benefit from participating in RTA's and may lose when it does not. Agriculture is an important source of potential U.S. gains from RTA's. While the United States, as a global trader with diverse trade partners, can gain potentially more from global free trade than from RTA's, many recent RTA's have been more comprehensive in their liberalization of agricultural trade liberalization than the Uruguay Round. A strong multilateral process can help ensure that RTA's are trade creating, rather than protectionist.

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