Free Trade Area (hereinafter referred to as the FTA), according to Article XXIV of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1944, shall be understood to mean a group of two or more customs territories where the duties and other restrictive regulations of commerce (with some exceptions) are eliminated on substantially all the trade between the constituent territories in products originating in such territories.
Such agreements are an exception from the most-favored-nation treatment established by the World Trade Organization, by which all the WTO members shall provide the uniform non-discriminatory treatment to each other.
The WTO does not prevent conclusion of FTA agreements, provided such agreements promote free trade and don’t restrict trade between its members and third countries.
Today, the FTA is the most common form of regional integration. For example, 84 percent of the regional trade agreements in force notified to the World Trade Organization (WTO) are the FTA agreements. This trend can be explained quite simply. To sign such agreement, there is no need to harmonize national legislation or tariffs, the geographic proximity of partners is also not necessary, etc. At the same time, the FTA agreements govern the access to strategic markets. It means that they allow integrating the economic sectors at the required level while ensuring maximal preservation of the sovereignty of these countries and making the best efforts.
The results of the relevant studies show that the number of the FTA agreements tends to increase each year. This is evidenced by the statistics: 124 such agreements were notified to the WTO by 1995. As of January 15, 2012, the World Trade Organization recorded 319 FTA agreements in force.
An FTA agreement is, therefore, an important trade policy tool administered by the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) according to the Agreement on the Eurasian Economic Commission dated November 18, 2011, that entitles the EEC to carry out its activity as to establishment of trade treatments with respect to third countries.