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Abstract

At the end of 2010 there are more than 100 new preferential trade agreements being contemplated. At the same time there are approximately 200 existing trade agreements whose provisions leave large additional potential gains from trade on the table. Despite these potential benefits, there appears to be little enthusiasm for recontracting efforts centred on existing agreements. This suggests that there is an inefficient deployment of scarce negotiating resources. Exceptions do exist, such as the European Union, which has strong institutional mechanisms - including, in particular, the Commission - that foster further market integration. While the EU's institutional model may not be suitable for all preferential agreements, incorporating a formal recontracting mechanism into new agreements will provide opportunities to garner additional gains from trade in the future.

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