„As a result, these agreements are increasingly defining new rules that govern trade between their parties and are not extended to all other WTO members. In addition, some of these issues are not regulated by the WTO in international trade. The inclusion of these provisions indicates that there is a growing divergence between existing WTO and ATR rules. This is another challenge for the multilateral trading system, firstly because it makes WTO rules less relevant to some trading partners and, second, because WTO members who are not part of the RTA network are increasingly excluded from these rules. With regard to the first challenge, recent investigations by the WTO secretariat indicate that the divergence of some provisions may be less pronounced, given that ATRs generally tend to repeat WTO rules. With regard to anti-dumping, safeguarding measures and, to some extent, health and plant health standards and measures, most ATRs retain the rights and obligations of contracting parties in the WTO. In other areas, although the RTA creates new rules, many parties take a similar approach that is common to all or most of their ATRs. This „model approach“ could, to some extent, reduce the magnitude of the discrepancy. November 2018 studies by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNCA) suggested that the implementation of the agreement would result in GDP growth of 1% and overall export growth of 3%.

The greatest impact would be intra-African trade, which would reach more than 50% (and even more for some economies) depending on the ambition of liberalization. Provisions to be negotiated in the second stage, such as investment, competition and intellectual property rights, would further strengthen regional integration, Africa.To conclude that ATRs are likely to continue to increase in both numbers and coverage, while some aspects of RTA will continue to discriminate against third-party trade. They therefore remain the second best option compared to the multilateral rules that apply to all WTO members. However, some aspects of the ATR, particularly the rules, tend to be non-discriminatory and may therefore also be beneficial to non-RTA parties. Policymakers benefit from a closer look at the impact of both types of provisions on global trade relations and international trade rules. The balance of geopolitical powers and the public`s rejection of uncontrolled politicisation have replaced this dream with an explosion of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements around the world (see Figure 1 for an overview of preferential agreements available to the EU). How does a company, with this multitude of agreements, implement the necessary changes to take advantage of these free trade agreements? Preparation, process changes, risk assessment and supplier/product qualifications? And they must do so at the same time as the ever-changing procurement, manufacturing and sales strategies dictated by a truly global environment, with both developed and emerging countries key to business success. It`s like jumping while it`s moving at 100 km/h. The answer is obvious: with dedicated resources, software processes and automation, the integration of preferential origin across the value chain, gaining strategic competitive advantages – and margin base points – every step of the way.