Since the 1990s, regional economic integration has become an unstoppable trend throughout the world. As the most telling feature of that, regional trade agreements (RTAs) have expanded explosively in the past fifteen years (see figure 1). According to the latest WTO data, the number of RTAs of all kinds (including those in implementation or to be signed) had reached almost 300 by the end of 2005. 250 of them have been notified to WTO, among which 130 were notified after January 1995, with most signed recently. So far, 173 RTAs have been notified to WTO and taken effect. It is assessed that there are still over 70 RTAs which havent been notified to WTO but about to come into effect.
Asian Economic Integration – Perspectives from a Chinese Scholar
Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies Working Paper