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Emerging World Trade Blocs

Emerging World Trade Blocs: The North American Free Trade Area and the European Union Compared


Olga M. Lazin, UCLA


The North American Free Trade Area, is together with the European Union, one of the largest manageable trade areas in the world. For all of its successes, the European Union is more than a customs union, it is a free mobility space for all European nationalities, which makes it the template, a model for progress.

Let us compare for the early 1990s:

(a) the 15 countries comprised in the European Union (data for which here include three countries that were to join in January 1995),

(b) the six Eastern European countries likely to join the European Union in the long term under the Europe Agreement,(1)

(c) the EU constituencies; 27 countries to date (2011),

(d) EU and NAFTA countries compared,

(d) major world trading blocs, especially Mercosur which is being courted by both NAFTA and EU, and

(f) the NAFTA schedule for managing the opening of duty-free trade by item for each of the three countries.

Data on the major trade blocs are included in order to show the context in which NAFTA and EU discuss expansion. The Europe Agreement to unite the continent east and west was signed on October 5, 1992, at Luxembourg; and the EU's negotiations to develop a special relationship with Mercosur have acquired importance by mid-1994 as Mercosur debates how closely to try to relate to NAFTA.

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