Chicago Journal of International Law


This Article unfolds as follows: Section II first situates RTAs against the backdrop of the global trading system in an effort to bring out RTAs' global implications. Section III highlights certain negative effects of RTAs on nonmembers and the global trading system, and demonstrates how the club goods of regional trade may turn into public bads. In particular, this Section describes three aspects of negative externalities that RTAs may occasion: negative externalities to the global trading system as a whole, those to individual economic players (global businesspeople) within the system, and those to poor nations. In order to address these negative externalities, Section IV suggests multilateralizing RTAs in a way that allows coexistence with the WTO in a coherent fashion. It raises three multilateralizing strategies that reduce or eliminate the preferential features of RTAs: sharing regional liberalization and integration with the outer world (open regionalism), active alliances between and among RTAs (institutional merger), and WTO-consistent interpretation by regional trade tribunals (judicial convergence). Section V concludes that institutionalization, such as RTAs, is only instrumental to the government's enlightened will to liberalize trade, which should be prioritized.