Types of International Trade Agreements

International trade agreements are crucial to countries looking to expand their economic growth and global reach. These agreements are designed to reduce trade barriers and promote greater cooperation between nations. There are different types of international trade agreements that can be put in place between two or more countries.

1. Bilateral agreements

Bilateral agreements are made between two countries and focus on reducing trade restrictions between the two nations. They aim to encourage the movement of goods, services, and investments between the two countries. Bilateral trade agreements are beneficial for countries that have a complementary economic structure and trade needs. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and Switzerland`s Free Trade Agreement with the European Union are examples of bilateral trade agreements.

2. Regional agreements

Regional agreements are created between a group of countries in the same geographical region. These agreements aim to promote economic integration and encourage trade between member countries. The European Union (EU) is an example of a regional agreement, which includes 27 member states, and has been successful in creating a single market and establishing a customs union.

3. Multilateral agreements

Multilateral agreements are made between multiple countries and focus on reducing trade barriers and promoting free trade globally. The World Trade Organization (WTO) is a multilateral agreement that covers 164 member countries. The WTO aims to create a level playing field for international trade and establish rules that promote fair competition. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) are examples of multilateral agreements.

4. Preferential trade agreements

Preferential trade agreements are created between two or more countries and aim to reduce tariffs and other trade barriers. These agreements usually involve a mutual reduction in tariffs for a selected list of products. Preferential trade agreements are usually granted to developing countries to help them improve their economic growth. The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) is a preferential trade agreement between developed and developing countries.


International trade agreements have become increasingly important in our globalized world. They help countries to expand economic growth, build stronger partnerships, and promote global trade cooperation. The four types of trade agreements include bilateral, regional, multilateral, and preferential trade agreements, each with its unique objectives and advantages. It is crucial for countries to understand these types of agreements before entering into them to ensure that they are beneficial for their economic growth.