As a general rule, the benefits and obligations of trade agreements apply only to their signatories. In the area of trade policy, the struggle often seems to be between national laws that strengthen protectionism and international agreements that try to reduce protectionism, such as the WTO. Why should a country pass laws or negotiate agreements to eliminate certain foreign products such as sugar or textiles, while negotiating the removal of trade barriers in general? A plausible answer is that international trade agreements offer countries a means of limiting their own particular interests. A member of Congress can say to an industry that defends tariffs or import quotas, « Of course they want to help you, but this boring WTO agreement won`t let me. The world has seen an avalanche of regional trade agreements in recent years. About 100 such agreements are now in force. Some of the most important are listed in Table 7. Some are just agreements to keep talking; others have set specific targets for reducing tariffs, import quotas and non-tariff barriers. One economist described the current trade agreements as a « spaghetti bowl, » like a map with lines that link all countries to trade agreements. Another dimension of international and regional trade policy and trade agreements is at the national level. The United States, for example, imposes import quotas on sugar because it is concerned that such imports will reduce the price of sugar and thus violate domestic sugar producers. One of the tasks of the U.S.
Department of Commerce is to determine whether imports from other countries are dumped. The United States International Trade Commission – a government agency – determines whether domestic industry has been seriously harmed by dumping and, if so, the president can impose tariffs to compensate for unjustified low prices. There are different types of economic integration around the world, from free trade agreements in which participants mutually allow each other imports without tariffs or quotas, through common markets where participants have a common trade policy and free trade within the group, to comprehensive economic unions that coordinate, in addition to a common market, monetary and fiscal policy. Many nations are part of both the World Trade Organization and regional trade agreements. These are located between countries located in a given region. Among the most powerful are a few countries close in a geographical area.  These countries generally have similar hisisms, post-D demography and even economic goals. A trade agreement signed between more than two parties (usually neighbouring or in the same region) is considered multilateral.