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There are significant differences between unions and free trade zones. Both types of trading blocs have internal agreements that the parties enter into to liberalize and facilitate trade between them. The key difference between unions and free trade zones is their approach to third parties [lack of ambiguity needed]. While a customs union requires all parties to apply and maintain identical external tariffs on trade with non-parties, parties to a free trade area are not subject to such a requirement. Instead, they can set and maintain any customs regime for imports from non-parties, as they see as necessary. [3] In a free trade area without harmonized external tariffs, the parties will adopt a system of preferential rules of origin to eliminate the risk of trade diversion [necessary ambiguities]. [4] The United States currently has 14 free trade agreements with 20 countries. Free trade agreements can help your business enter and compete more easily in the global marketplace through zero or reduced tariffs and other provisions. Although the specifics of each free trade agreement are different, they generally provide for the removal of trade barriers and the creation of a more stable and transparent trade and investment environment. This makes it easier and cheaper for U.S. companies to export their products and services to the markets of their trading partners. At the international level, there are two databases of access to free movement that have been developed by international organizations for policy makers and businesses: a free trade agreement (FTA) is an agreement between two or more countries to facilitate trade and remove trade barriers.

The aim is to eliminate tariffs completely from day one or over a number of years. First, the parties that signed a free trade area applicable to trade with non-parties to that free trade area at the time of the creation of that free trade area must not be higher or more restrictive than tariffs and other rules applicable in the same signatory countries prior to the creation of the free trade area. In other words, the creation of a free trade area to give preferential treatment to their members is legitimate under WTO law, but parties to a free trade area are not allowed to treat non-parties less favourably than before the creation of the territory. A second requirement under Article XXIV is that tariffs and other trade barriers must be eliminated primarily for all trade within the free trade area. [10] As soon as the agreements go beyond the regional level, they need help. The World Trade Organization intervenes at this stage. This international body contributes to the negotiation and implementation of global trade agreements. The concept of free trade is the opposite of trade protectionism or economic isolationism.

Since WTO members are required to communicate their free trade agreements to the secretariat, this database is based on the official source of information on free trade agreements (called the WTO-language regional trade agreement).