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International Trade Law: International Treaties/Trade Agreements


Researching international treaties (a type of binding international instrument), and other international agreements, can be a complex process. There are, however, many useful guides available to provide assistance with this type of research.  Note that treaties/international agreements can be bilateral (between two parties) or multilateral (between three or more parties). 

In the international trade arena, various multinational WTO agreements and regional and bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) are the overarching documents. In this context, there are also numerous trade blocs or common markets. A list of these is available, for example, in Wikipedia's article on "Trade Blocs." 


Sources for U.S. Treaties

Treaties in Force (TIF) lists U.S. treaties and agreements still in force, organized by country and subject.  TIF is published annually and is available on the U.S. State Department's website. References to the texts of the treaties are also listed, if available. U.S. treaties first appear as a single document with a Treaties and Other International Acts Series (T.I.A.S) number; these are available in PDF format in HeinOnline's Treaties and Agreements LibraryWestlaw and LexisNexis also contain U.S. treaties and agreements, and the U.S. State Department's website also provides access to T.I.A.S. from 1981 to 2021. Note that the United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (UST) volumes are no longer published. U.S. treaties from 1776-1949 are available in digitized format via the Law Library of Congress website. For more in-depth information on researching U.S. treaties, see one of the research guides listed at right. 

World Trade Organization Legal Documents

The WTO's legal documents, including trade agreements, are available through this link. Most of the WTO agreements are the result of the 1986–94 Uruguay Round negotiations, signed at the Marrakesh ministerial meeting in April 1994. There are about sixty agreements and decisions, which total some 550 pages. Negotiations since then have produced additional legal texts, such as the Information Technology Agreement, and services and accession protocols. See also its Regional Trade Agreements Database

Introductory Materials (WWW)

The following can serve as introductions to treaty research generally and international trade treaties more specifically. 

Travaux Préparatoires

The travaux préparatoires are the documents created during the negotiations, preliminary discussions, and drafting of an international agreement.  For assistance researching travaux préparatoires, see the following guide posted on GlobaLex:


Other Sources of Trade-Related Agreements and Treaties (WWW)

See the list below for various collections of international trade, investment, and intellectual property agreements available on the WWW. 


United Nations Treaty Series

The UN Treaty Series (U.N.T.S.) is a collection of treaties and other international agreements, published since 1946, per Article 102 of the UN Charter.  U.N.T.S. is available in electronic format (PDF). Click on "Advanced Search," then "Search For" treaty, and then filter by volume number.