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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 September, 2003, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
World trade blocs: Introduction
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Click on the map to read about the main trade blocs.

The world is increasingly dividing into trade blocs.

The world's two most powerful economies, the United States, and the European Union, have each sought to forge links to neighbouring countries and deny access to rivals.

Other major trading countries, like the fast growing exporters on the Pacific Rim and the big agricultural exporting nations, have also sought to create looser trade groupings to foster their interests.

The formation of free trade zones and trade blocs is one of the major issues facing the world trading system - whether it will lead to increased protectionism, or whether the trade blocs will promote trade liberalisation.


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