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Free Trade Agreements: The Other Face of Liberalization. What Latitude Do Developing Countries Have?


The number of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) between developed and developing countries has risen spectacularly since the start of the 2000s, while the negotiations have simultaneously reached a stalemate in the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO has been apprised of 158 FTAs and 86 of these involve developed and developing countries but few involve the least developed countries (LDCs). The liberalization implemented by these agreements tends to be more extensive than in the multilateral framework because it applies to areas still under negotiation at the WTO and to LDCs, who are not obliged to liberalize their trade. However, there is room for flexibility, and developing countries and LDCs can use this latitude to control the pace and scope of liberalization in the FTAs that they negotiate.


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