The European Union is today a remarkable example of free trade. The Member States form an essentially unlimited unit for the purposes of trade and the introduction of the euro by most of these nations paves the way. It should be noted that this system is regulated by a Brussels-based bureaucracy, which has to deal with the many trade-related issues that arise between representatives of the Member States. Trade agreements are usually unilateral, bilateral or multilateral. Or there could be directives that would exclude certain products from duty-free status in order to protect domestic producers from foreign competition in their sectors. A government does not need to take specific measures to promote free trade. This «hand-off» attitude is called «laissez-faire» or trade liberalization. Free trade allows for the unlimited import and export of goods and services between two or more countries. Trade agreements are forged to reduce or eliminate tariffs on imports or quotas on exports. These help participating countries to act competitively. Conditionalities, exceptions and concessions also increase the complexity of regulatory texts. As a result, the average text of the treaty is now about ten times longer than it was twenty-five years ago. Not surprisingly, financial markets see the other side of the coin.
Free trade is an opportunity to open up another part of the world to local producers. What are the commonalities and differences between investment chapters in international trade agreements and bilateral investment agreements? The Texts of Trade Agreements (ToTA) project makes available to the public a corpus of complete machine-readable texts commented by preferential trade agreements (SPAs) for scientists and policy makers and uses the most modern textual techniques to analyse it. Trade agreements converge into regional or interregional clusters of similar agreements All these agreements do not collectively add up to free trade in its laissez-faire form. Amerie special interest groups have successfully imposed trade restrictions on hundreds of imports, including steel, sugar, cars, milk, tuna, beef and denim. The largest multilateral agreement is the agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada (USMCA, formerly the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA) between the United States, Canada and Mexico. . . .