What is more controversial is that beyond regulatory rapprochement and cooperation, PTAs can be a means for global and regional hegemons to follow non-trade agendas. At this point, this is largely fuelled by large rich countries and, to a lesser extent, by small industrialized countries. Today, issues such as intellectual property rights are regularly part of the PTAs and provisions on social norms such as labour standards and human rights are not uncommon. Over the past decade, the world has seen a new dynamic in the negotiations and conclusion of preferential trade agreements (EPZs). This new wave of 21st century regionalism, as Richard Baldwin calls it, is characterized by several characteristics: the proliferation of supraregional initiatives and agreements covering wider networks of participants, the increased participation of countries at all levels of development; Increased participation by Asian countries in bilateral and regional agreements; and, of course, the growth of deep integration and the border agenda in these agreements (1). In this brief article, we first reflect on the possible reasons for this new wave of regionalism, before trying to outline some of its effects on developing countries. A binding agreement on rules and discipline is an important dimension of the political pact necessary for better integration of legislation. Effective implementation of EPZs requires transparent and inclusive consultation processes, administrative modernization and coordination mechanisms such as referral dispute resolution systems and standard-setting bodies. Other examples are the provisions on capacity building and resource transfers, which are often found in EPZs, where there is a strong asymmetry between partners, i.e. the North-South agreements.
Finally, the possibility of greater trust between the parties is another important additional benefit of the PTA (in addition to the legal certainty provided by the agreement itself). Institutions that manage trade agreements, such as regional economic communities, therefore have a key responsibility to take advantage of the benefits of this new generation of high-quality trade agreements. What is important is that in the architecture of most PTAs, not all obligations are legally binding. Soft law rules are rich in preferential regimes that reflect the incomplete contractual nature of international business transactions.