Regional integration can be defined as the unification of countries into a larger whole. It also reflects a country’s willingness to share or unify into a larger whole. The level of integration of a country with other countries is determined by what it shares and how it shares.
Regional integration requires some compromise on the part of participating countries. It should aim to improve the general quality of life for the citizens of those countries.
In recent years, we have seen more and more countries moving towards regional integration to strengthen their ties and relationship with other countries. This tendency towards integration was activated by the European Union (EU) market integration.
The following are Regional integration types:
Preferential trading agreement
Preferential trading agreement is a trade pact between countries. It is the weakest type of economic integration and aims to reduce taxes on few products to the countries who sign the pact. The tariffs are not abolished completely but are lower than the tariffs charged to countries not party to the agreement.
Free trade area
Free Trade Area (FTA) is a type of trade bloc and can be considered as the second stage of economic integration. It comprises of all countries that are willing to or agree to reduce preferences, tariffs and quotas on services and goods traded between them. Countries choose this kind of economic integration if their economical structures are similar.
Custom union agreement among negotiating countries may encompass to reduce or eliminate customs duty on mutual trade. Under customs union agreement, countries generally impose a common external -tariff (CTF) on imports from non-member countries.
Common market is a group formed by countries within a geographical area to promote duty free trade and free movement of labour and capital among its members. European community is an example of common market. Common markets levy common external tariff on imports from non-member countries.
It comprises of a common market with a customs union. The countries that are part of an economic union have common policies on the freedom of movement of four factors of production, common product regulations and a common external trade policy.
A political union is a type of country, which consists of smaller countries/nations. Here, the individual nations share a common government and the union is acknowledged internationally as a single political entity. A political union can also be termed as a legislative union or state union.