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Open Regionalism Ironically as society drifts towards globalization regionalism also seems to take place in almost every corner of the globe In fact most countries in the world on all continents are members of regional trade agreements through either customs unions free trade areas or other preferential arrangements Over 200 regional trade agreements RTAs exists and have been notified to the World Trade Organization WTO and over 150 of those agreements are in force Most of these agreements have been concluded in the past ten years and cover mainly trades in goods or services or a combination of both To further complicate the issue of RTAs many countries are members of several agreements oftentimes these multiple agreements have differing rules Europe seems to be taking the lead in regards to RTAs with sixty percent of the notified RTAs in force at the end of 2000 whereas developing countries only account for about fifteen percent of the total RTAs in 2000 The question that arises is whether the growth of regional groups helps or hinders the development of multilateral trading systems Many countries are trying to balance between global and regional trade organizations To understand the relative advantages of regional versus global organizations you must consider why international organizations are created According to Yale Universitys Bruce Russett some organizations have single or multiple purposes however according to Russett all international trade organizations have these purposes or functions First to secure peace among their members second to provide for external security vis--vis other states third to carry out a variety of economic-related tasks such as development managing or promoting interdependence fourth to address problems of environmental protection and lastly to secure human rights These purposes or functions are normally carried out by a wide range of international organizations including international non-governmental organizations INGOs and intergovernmental organizations IGOs Many scholars feel that the United Nations serves three distinct purposes security against violence economic security
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