Bilateral and Regional Free Trade Agreements
Some Critical Elements and Development Implications


Publisher: TWN (ISBN: 978-983-2729-59-4)

Year: 2008   No. of pages: 128


BILATERAL and regional free trade agreements (FTAs) between developed and developing countries are proliferating. They usually contain tariff-reduction commitments and disciplines deeper than at the World Trade Organisation and also contain rules that are not in the WTO.

This book argues that the comprehensive and strict obligations these FTAs impose will seriously constrain the developing-country party’s policy-making capacity to pursue national socioeconomic and development goals. As a result of this erosion of policy space and the drastic market-opening demanded by FTAs, no less than the country’s development prospects would be undermined.

This book examines the development implications of FTAs for signatory developing countries in each of the major areas typically covered by these agreements, including trade in goods, trade in services, investment, government procurement, competition policy and intellectual property rights. In light of the very real risks posed, developing countries should assess the costs and benefits of an FTA before deciding whether to enter into or conclude negotiations.

The book uses the typical FTA that the United States adopts with developing countries as the main basis of its analysis. FTAs adopted by other developed countries share many of the same features.


MARTIN KHOR is the Director of the Third World Network. An economist trained in Cambridge University, he is the author of several books and articles on trade, development and environment issue.


Chapter 1.       Bilateral Free Trade and Economic Agreements         

Chapter 2.       Disadvantages of FTAs Compared to Multilateral Trade Agreements           

Chapter 3.       Changing Views on the Effects of Liberalisation          

Chapter 4.       "Reciprocity" as a Principle in FTAs               

Chapter 5.       Main Features of FTAs Between Developed and Developing Countries     

Chapter 6.       Market Access in Goods        

Chapter 7.       Services           

                        Does the degree of services liberalisation matter for development?            

Chapter 8.       Investment: Liberalisation and Investor Protection  

                        The "Singapore issues"    

                        Background to investment issue   

                        Main design and features of the investment chapter          

                        Some implications of the investment chapter in FTAs        

                        The need for space and flexibility for investment and development policies and the effects                         of the FTA investment chapter      


Chapter 9.       Liberalisation of Government Procurement 

                        Government procurement in trade agreements      

                        Features of government procurement in FTAs involving the US     

                        National policy changes needed due to FTA                                           

                        Erosion of policy space and in the role of government procurement          

                        Limited gains from US procurement market access        

                        Effects of government procurement liberalisation under FTA        

Chapter 10.     Competition Policy    

                        Background to the issue  

                        Towards a development framework on competition for developing countries          

                        The US proposal on competition in its FTAs:

                        Anti-competitive business conduct, designated monopolies and government enterprises       

                        Development implications of the competition chapter      

Chapter 11.     Intellectual Property Rights              


                        Patents and access to medicines  

                        The developing country will be obliged to sign up to many international IP treaties  

                        Effects on patenting of life, biodiversity, genetic resources, agriculture and farmers            

                        Patent Cooperation Treaty        

                        Scope of patentability      


                        Enforcement of IP        

Chapter 12.     GMOs and Food Safety         

Chapter 13.     The European Union's Economic Partnership Agreements

Chapter 14.     Need for Policy Framework and Assessment of Costs and Benefits           



US$16.00 for First World countries

US$12.00 for Third World countries

RM17.00 for Malaysia

Prices are inclusive of postage costs by airmail.

How to Order the Book

Visit our TWN Online Bookshop or contact Third World Network at 131 Jalan Macalister, 10400 Penang, Malaysia.

Tel: 604-2266159

Fax: 604-2264505

Email for further information.