Free trade agreements and regional trade agreements with third countries and European business

Authored by: Terrence R. Guay

The Routledge Companion to European Business

Print publication date:  July  2018
Online publication date:  July  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138226586
eBook ISBN: 9781315397306
Adobe ISBN:


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Trade is a central aspect of international business. It also is one of the core economic foundations of the European Union (EU). Cross-border trade, as well as investment, broad economic ties and cultural linkages were viewed by the EU’s founders as fundamental building blocks for European peace, political cooperation and prosperity (Dinan 2014). Through the various treaties and agreements since the 1950s, tariffs (or taxes) on the import of goods and services amongst EU member countries have been eliminated, and non-tariff barriers (such as regulatory differences or quotas limiting the quantity of imports) are continuously being identified and eliminated. The 1985 Single European Act (SEA) sought to remove all barriers to the trade of goods and services, and to the free movement of capital and people within the EU (Sandholtz and Zysman 1989). Today, for the most part, operating in multiple EU countries is much easier for business than was the case a few decades ago. A regional trade agreement (RTA) is an accord between two or more countries anywhere in the world to reduce or eliminate tariffs and other barriers to trade on selected goods and services. The EU has become the world’s most successful RTA (Katsoulis 2016).

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