Commercial policy

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A commercial policy (also referred to as a trade policy or international trade policy) is a government's policy governing international trade. Commercial policy is an all encompassing term that is used to cover topics which involve international trade. Trade policy is often described in terms of a scale between the extremes of free trade (no restrictions on trade) on one side and protectionism (high restrictions to protect local producers) on the other. A common commercial policy can sometimes be agreed by treaty within a customs union, as with the European Union's common commercial policy and in Mercosur. A nation's commercial policy will include and take into account the policies adopted by that nation's government while negotiating international trade. There are several factors that can affect a nation's commercial policy, all of which can affect international trade policies.


Theories on international trade policy

Trade policy has been controversial since the days of mercantilism. Economics (or political economy) has developed in major part as an effort to make clear various effects of trade policies. See International trade theory. The hottest topic in economic policy is upgrading in Global Value Chains.

Types and aspects of Commercial policy


Regionalism, or Regional Trade Agreements (RTA), are trade policies and agreements that are crafted by the nations in a region for the purposes of increasing international trade in the area. RTAs have been described by supporters as a means of increasing free trade with the goal of eventually merging into larger, either bilateral or multilateral, trade deals. The more relatively local area of RTAs are useful in resolving trade issues as well without causing gridlock in other trade agreements. Critics of RTAs say that they are a hindrance to the negotiation of trade because they can be lopsided or unfairly beneficial to one side over the other sides, particularly if some of the participants are nations that are still in development. [1]

As China was rising in economic power and prominence, they turned to regionalism as a strategic method of leveling the playing field with Europe and the United States. In 2000, China signed the Bangkok agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to reduce tariffs in the region. The signing of the agreement also began the push for a formal Free Trade Agreement between China and ASEAN. However, strained relations between China and other Asian nations such as Japan have prevented the same level of regional FTAs to be put in place with Northeast Asia. [2]

Bilateral Free Trade Agreements

A bilateral Free Trade Agreement is when two countries agree to exchange goods to promote trade and investments elimination barriers such as tariffs, import quotas, and export restrains. [3] The United States has signed such treaties as the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994 as well as with Israel in the 1980s. Experts who support such free trade agreements argue that these agreements increase competition while offering business the ability to reach larger markets. Critics of bilateral agreements claim that a larger nation, such as the United States, can use these agreements to unfairly push smaller states into much harsher work loads than the World Trade Organization already requires. [4]

Relations between the European Union and South Korea have led to both parties signing several bilateral agreements regarding trade policy. In 2009, South Korea and the EU signed the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement. The signing of the agreement created an FTA that is second only to NAFTA in size. The agreement held the benefits of increased free trade between the participants in the FTA as well as increased challenge to the United States. [5]

Preferential Trade Agreements

Preferential agreements are trade deals that involve nations making deals with specific countries that can aid the interests of one another as opposed to the nondiscriminatory deals that are pushed by the WTO. Nations have been increasingly preferring such deals since the 1950s as they are quicker to show gains for the parties involved in the agreements. A common argument that has been made is that it allows businesses to open up markets that would otherwise be considered closed and therefore falls into the free trade idea that most countries will push for. Countries that have similar levels of GDP and a higher scope in their economies as well as their relative position to one another and the rest of the world are more likely to have preferential trade agreements. PTAs can also be applied to regional areas with unions such as NAFTA, the European Union, and ASEAN being examples of regional PTAs. [6] [7]

Those who opposer PTAs argue that these deals have increased the importance of where a product is made so that tariffs can be applied accordingly. The certification of a product's origin also unfairly holds back smaller countries that have less resources to spend. Others argue that PTAs can hinder negotiations of trade disputes and places an emphasis of which country has more power. [7]

Ways in which commercial policy is affected


Trade tariffs are a tax that are placed on the import of foreign goods. Tariffs increase the price of imports and are usually levied onto the country the goods are being imported from. Governments will use tariffs as a way to promote competition within their own country with businesses of the foreign country that wishes to sell their goods or services. In some instances, a country's government will use them as a means of protectionism for their own interests. In modern history, generally starting at the mid-20th century, the use of tariffs has been largely diminished in favor of the rise of international trade. [8] Beginning in 2017, the Trump administration began to impose tariffs on several of nations that were involved in trade deals with the United States. The countries targeted by the Trump Tariffs then retaliated with their own tariffs on American goods.

Import Quotas

Import quotas are the limitations of the amount of goods that can be imported into the country from foreign businesses. Generally, an import quota is set for a specific period of time with one year being the most common metric. Some versions of the quotas limits the quantity of specific goods being imported into a country while other versions place the limit on the value of those goods. The objectives of quotas can include: the protections of a nations interests, ensuring a balance of trade so as not to create deficits, retaliation to restrictive trade policies of other countries that do business on the international playing field. [9]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Free trade area</span> Regional trade agreement

A free trade area is the region encompassing a trade bloc whose member countries have signed a free trade agreement (FTA). Such agreements involve cooperation between at least two countries to reduce trade barriers, import quotas and tariffs, and to increase trade of goods and services with each other. If natural persons are also free to move between the countries, in addition to a free trade agreement, it would also be considered an open border. It can be considered the second stage of economic integration.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Trade agreement</span> Wide ranging taxes, tariff and trade treaty

A trade agreement is a wide-ranging taxes, tariff and trade treaty that often includes investment guarantees. It exists when two or more countries agree on terms that help them trade with each other. The most common trade agreements are of the preferential and free trade types, which are concluded in order to reduce tariffs, quotas and other trade restrictions on items traded between the signatories.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">ASEAN Free Trade Area</span> Free trade area of the Association of South East Asian Nations

The ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) is a trade bloc agreement by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations supporting local trade and manufacturing in all ASEAN countries, and facilitating economic integration with regional and international allies. It stands as one of the largest and most important free trade areas (FTA) in the world, and together with its network of dialogue partners, drove some of the world's largest multilateral forums and blocs, including Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, East Asia Summit and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Non-tariff barriers to trade</span> Type of trade barriers

Non-tariff barriers to trade are trade barriers that restrict imports or exports of goods or services through mechanisms other than the simple imposition of tariffs.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Australia–United States Free Trade Agreement</span> Preferential trade agreement

The Australia – United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) is a preferential trade agreement between Australia and the United States modelled on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The AUSFTA was signed on 18 May 2004 and came into effect on 1 January 2005.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Preferential trading area</span> Type of trade bloc

A preferential trade area is a trading bloc that gives preferential access to certain products from the participating countries. This is done by reducing tariffs but not by abolishing them completely. It is the first stage of economic integration.

A free-trade agreement (FTA) or treaty is an agreement according to international law to form a free-trade area between the cooperating states. There are two types of trade agreements: bilateral and multilateral. Bilateral trade agreements occur when two countries agree to loosen trade restrictions between the two of them, generally to expand business opportunities. Multilateral trade agreements are agreements among three or more countries, and are the most difficult to negotiate and agree.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Trade and Investment Framework Agreement</span>

A Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) is a trade pact that establishes a framework for expanding trade and resolving outstanding disputes between countries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Market access</span> Ability to sell goods and services across borders

In international trade, market access is a company's ability to enter a foreign market by selling its goods and services in another country. Market access is not the same as free trade, because market access is normally subject to conditions or requirements, whereas under ideal free trade conditions goods and services can circulate across borders without any barriers to trade. Expanding market access is therefore often a more achievable goal of trade negotiations than achieving free trade.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Certificate of origin</span> International trade document

A Certificate of Origin or Declaration of Origin is a document widely used in international trade transactions which attests that the product listed therein has met certain criteria to be considered as originating in a particular country. A certificate of origin / declaration of origin is generally prepared and completed by the exporter or the manufacturer, and may be subject to official certification by an authorized third party. It is often submitted to a customs authority of the importing country to justify the product's eligibility for entry and/or its entitlement to preferential treatment. Guidelines for issuance of Certificates of Origin by chambers of commerce globally are issued by the International Chamber of Commerce.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rules of origin</span> Rules to attribute a country of origin to a product

Rules of origin are the rules to attribute a country of origin to a product in order to determine its "economic nationality". The need to establish rules of origin stems from the fact that the implementation of trade policy measures, such as tariffs, quotas, trade remedies, in various cases, depends on the country of origin of the product at hand.

The Comprehensive Economic Partnership for East Asia (CEPEA) is a Japanese led proposal for trade co-operation, free trade agreement, among the 16 present member countries of the East Asia Summit. All those movements and efforts were taken over by the following Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

The ASEAN–India Free Trade Area (AIFTA) is a free trade area among the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Republic of India. The initial framework agreement was signed on 8 October 2003 in Bali, Indonesia. and the final agreement was on 13 August 2009. The free trade area came into effect on 1 January 2010. India hosted the latest ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit in New Delhi on 26 January 2018. In the financial year 2017–18, Indo-ASEAN bilateral trade grew by almost 14% to reach US$81.3 billion. India's imports from ASEAN were valued at US$47.13 billion while its exports to ASEAN stood at US$34.2 billion.

The spaghetti bowl effect is the multiplication of free trade agreements (FTAs), supplanting multilateral World Trade Organization negotiations as an alternative path toward globalization. The term was first used by Jagdish Bhagwati in 1995 in the paper: “US Trade policy: The infatuation with free trade agreements”, where he openly criticized FTAs as being paradoxically counter-productive in promoting freer and more opened global trades. According to Bhagwati, too many crisscrossing FTAs would allow countries to adopt discriminatory trade policies and reduce the economic benefits of trade.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">South Korea–European Union relations</span> Bilateral relations

The European Union (EU) and the Republic of Korea are important trade partners: Korea is the EU's ninth largest export market for goods, and the EU is Korea's third largest export destination. The two have signed a free trade agreement which came into effect at end of 2011. Furthermore, South Korea is the only country in the world with the three agreements covering economics, politics and security in effect as of 2020.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">China–Pakistan Free Trade Agreement</span> Trade pact between Asian nations

The China–Pakistan Free Trade Agreement(CPFTA) is a free trade agreement (FTA) between the People's Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan that seeks to increase trade and strengthen the partnership between the two countries.

The Commerce and Trade Group (CTG) is a branch of the Central Superior Services of Pakistan. The Commerce and Trade Group is responsible for the commercial diplomacy and economic development of Pakistan. In order to safeguard Pakistan's commercial interests and enhance market access, the CTG was created in 1973 to help Pakistan in developing Pakistan trade ties abroad and to cater the modern needs of specialized officer for trade policy and implementation.

The Indonesia–Pakistan Preferential Trade Agreement is a bilateral preferential trade agreement between Indonesia and Pakistan, signed on 3 February 2012.

India is party to free trade agreements (FTAs) and other trade agreements with many countries and trade blocs, and is negotiating with many others. As of 2022, India has preferential access, economic cooperation and FTA with more than 50 individual countries.


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