Compatibility of East African customs union with WTO rules
In the WTO context, Regional Trade Agreements have both a general and a more specific meaning. More general because RTAs may be agreements concluded between countries not necessarily belonging to the same geographical region: more specifically because, a RTA is understood as establishing an element of preference in the trade between the parties to the agreement. The difference in these RTAs lies in the level of intended integration between the parties. For instance, in free trade agreements (FTA) restrictions on trade among member countries are removed but each member maintains its own trade polldes towards non-members. A customs union is similar to a FTA except that members normally adopt a common external trade policy. Deeper forms of integration include common markets, which allow for the free movement of factors of production, and economic unions, which involve some degree of harmonization of national economic policies'.