Multilateral, Regional and Bilateral Trade Agreements: Emerging Scenarios and Challenges for African and Least-Developed Countries.The trade agreements have become the main vehicle of global economic integration since the last decade of the 20th century. At the centre of this development are the multilateral trade agreements under the World Trade Organization that are being further strengthened and expanded under the on-going Doha Round of trade negotiations. At the same time, the number, participants and coverage of various inter-regional, regional and bilateral trade agreements has been on the increase as well. In fact a larger share of trade flow is taking place under the latter than under multilateral commitments. Moreover, intentions to launch negotiations on further inter-regional, regional and bilateral trade agreements are expressed every month both by developed and developing countries.Trade agreements, whether multilateral, inter-regional, regional or bilateral, are no more about traditional trade measures (i.e., customs duties and border measures) only. They now cover many issues that are directly linked to domestic policy areas, such as, intellectual property, investment, domestic regulation related to services, competition, public procurement, standards , etc. This presents a clear trade-off, particularly for developing countries, between increasing predictability of market access for their exports and reducing the national policy space to adopt pro-development industrial, technological, fiscal, monetary, and employment policies.

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