Yulia Vnukova advises the World Bank in the Department of Trade and Regional Integration (ETIRI). Based on more than a decade of experience, Yulia`s current work focuses on trade policy and regional integration, focusing on macroeconomic and microeconomic analyses of trade, trade and sectoral competitiveness, global value chains and private sector development in emerging countries in Europe, Asia and Africa. Robert W. Staiger is a Roth Family Professor of Art and Science and Professor of Economics at Dartmouth College. Professor Staiger received his A.B from Williams College in 1980 and his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1985. From 1985 to 1991, he was an assistant professor of economics at Stanford University and was promoted to Associate Professor at Stanford in 1991. In 1993, Staiger joined the Department of Economics at the University of Wisconsin, where he remained until his return to Stanford in 2006 to become a holbrook working professor in Commodity Price Studies at the Department of Economics. In 2011, he joined the Wisconsin Department of Economy as a Stockwell Professor of Economics and joined Dartmouth as a Roth Family Distinguished Visiting Scholar during the 2013-14 academic year and joined the Department of Economy in Dartmouth in the fall of 2014. Professor Staiger focuses on international trade policy, rules and institutions, with a particular focus on the GATT/WTO economy. Professor Staiger`s research has been published in a variety of academic journals and in a book, The Economics of the World Trading System, with Kyle Bagwell and published by The MIT Press (2002). In December 2016, he was editor of Kyle Bagwell for The Handbook of Commercial Policy, published by Elsevier. Preferential trade agreements have always been a feature of the global trading system, but they have grown in importance in recent years.

The number of PTAs has increased from 50 in the early 1990s to about 300 in 2019. All WTO members currently participate in at least one and often several PTAs. The PTAs have broadened their scope. While the average ATP covered 8 policy areas in the 1950s, they averaged 17 in recent years. The perimeter of the AfCFTA is important. The agreement will reduce tariffs between Member States and cover policy areas such as trade facilitation and services, as well as regulatory measures such as hygiene standards and technical barriers to trade. Full implementation of AfCFTA would transform markets and economies across the region and boost production in the services, manufacturing and raw materials sectors. The World Bank report, The African Continental Free Trade Area: Economic and Distributional Effects, aims to help policymakers implement policies that can maximize the potential benefits of the agreement while minimizing risks. Creating a continental market requires resolute efforts to reduce all business costs. Governments also need to develop strategies to increase the willingness of their workforce to take advantage of new opportunities.

Regional trade agreements are multiplying and changing their nature. In 1990, 50 trade agreements were in force. In 2017, there were more than 280. In many trade agreements, negotiations today go beyond tariffs and cover several policy areas relating to trade and investment in goods and services, including rules that go beyond borders, such as competition policy, public procurement rules and intellectual property rights. ATRs, which cover tariffs and other border measures, are „flat“ agreements; THE RTAs, which cover more policy areas at the border and at the back of the border, are „deep“ agreements.