The Non-Trade Dimension of Preferential Trade Agreements

The non-trade dimension of PTAs are studied within this project. It investigates to what degree and with what effect states choose to use these international legal instruments to affect domestic practices in a variety of areas, ranging from environmental protection to labour, security, development, migration and human rights.

The project systematically maps overall patterns in the coverage (range and complexity) of political factors in trade agreements. This mapping also addresses more general questions including: How deep or shallow are the non-trade provisions of PTAs? Do PTAs complement the multilateral trading regime in addressing increasing issue complexity? Or are they a hindrance to resolving the regulatory challenges posed by the trading system? To what extent and in which areas can PTAs compensate for the regulatory deficiencies created by the multilateral system?


In a second step, the project examines the role of states and their goals in creating and designing non-trade provisions in trade agreements. The analysis will explore the impact of the distribution of power on the political design of PTAs in particular. The central research questions include: How does power shape the political content of PTAs? Do powerful states impose political blueprints on their trading partners or do weaker states have a significant voice in institutional design? What are the political consequences of the design of PTAs?