The Brave New World of Cross Regionalism
Cross-regionalism is a new fashion in preferential trading whereby countries, large or small, participate simultaneously in various Free Trade Areas. They seem mostly to be a reflection of the increasing rivalry of the United States and the European Union for drawing the attention by emerging middle-sized and small economies. This trend is profited then by the latter to diversify their previous (almost) exclusive economic relations with a given "hub". A strategy consisting in multiplying the number of Free Trade Areas is perfectly suited both to "hubs" and "spokes". According to the old North-South pattern, economic powers concluding preferential deals sought mainly to reap the political benefit of extending their sphere of influence and small countries the economic benefit of market access to a large market. Now new pattern is emerging whereby the two partners are motivated both by economic and political reasons. One clear result is that spheres of influence are on the wane. But this is of no help to least developed countries.