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The debate among the economists on the benefits and costs of preferential agreements—compared to the multilateral “erga omnes” liberalisation provided by the WTO forum—is one of the most complex debate in trade theory. Preferential agreements are even more complex to analyse when they include services because services are intensive in regulations and difficult to liberalise. Among the preferential agreements signed since 1947, there are a few astounding successes—the European Community being one of the most well known. But there are blatant failures, and a vast majority of meaningless agreements.

In addition to its long standing interest in the European Community, current GEM work focuses on three regions particularly challenging: the Balkans, Mercosur, and the Middle East.



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