Trade and foreign policy have been linked throughout history, with foreign policy often designed to promote trade interests. In the 3rd century BC, during the Han Dynasty, China used its military power to preserve the Silk Road for its trade value. In 30 BC, Rome conquered much of Egypt to have a better supply of grain. As the WTO seeks to expand GATT`s multilateral trade initiatives, recent trade negotiations appear to be entering a phase of «multilateralization of regionalism.» The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and regional cooperation in Asia and the Pacific (RCEP) account for a significant share of global GDP and world trade, indicating that regionalism could become a broader and multilateral framework. Today, ATRs are evolving in a way that goes beyond existing multilateral rules. The areas that cover them – investment, capital and people, competition and state-owned enterprises, e-commerce, anti-corruption and intellectual property rights – are key policy issues that need to be addressed in today`s more interconnected markets. Mega-regional initiatives are of a completely new scale and allow preferential access to Member States` markets by attempting to conclude 21st century trade agreements with deep and comprehensive market integration. This broad scope makes them more robust than other types of trade agreements as soon as all parties sign. Bilateral agreements are easier to negotiate, but only between two countries.
Multilateral trade agreements are trade agreements between three or more nations. The agreements reduce tariffs and facilitate the import and export of companies. Because they belong to many countries, they are difficult to negotiate. Many ATRs contain elements that deepen regulatory cooperation and new market opportunities are created, even as participants address structural barriers in their own economies. Next-generation RTAs are working to go further. Countries wishing to participate in and benefit from global markets must increasingly integrate trade and investment measures into their broader national structural reforms.