In industrialized countries, protection of manufacturing is generally low, but remains high for many labour-intensive products manufactured by developing countries. For example, the United States, which has an average import duty of only 5%, has peak tariffs on nearly 300 individual products. This mainly concerns textiles and clothing, which account for 90% of the $1 billion in U.S. imports per year from the poorest countries, a figure held back by import quotas and tariffs. Other labour-intensive producers are also disproportionately subject to tariff peaks and tariff increases that hinder export diversification to higher value-added products. The failure to open a new round of multilateral trade negotiations at the 1999 WTO conference in Seattle was a setback for the international trading system. Such large-scale multilateral negotiations are particularly important because they provide countries with the opportunity to obtain visible benefits for their exporters from the opening of markets by other countries. This perspective provides more incentives for countries to open their own markets and overcome the resistance of entrenched, protected interests. In this way, the trade liberalisation packages that are under way for these negotiations will ensure that they benefit all participating countries. In total, the United States currently has 14 trade agreements involving 20 different countries. Opening up their economies to the global economy has been essential to enable many developing countries to develop competitive advantages in the manufacture of certain products. In these countries, defined by the World Bank as the „new globalizers“, the number of people living in absolute poverty has decreased by more than 120 million (14%) between 1993 and 1998.1 Regional trade agreements and their nature change. 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.