A customs union is generally defined as a type of trade bloc which is composed of a free trade area with a common external tariff. Customs unions are established through trade pacts where the participant countries set up common external trade policy (in some cases they use different import quotas). Common competition policy is also helpful to avoid competition deficiency.
Purposes for establishing a customs union normally include increasing economic efficiency and establishing closer political and cultural ties between the member countries. It is the third stage of economic integration.
(a) A customs union shall be understood to mean the substitution of a single customs territory for two or more customs territories, so that
(i) duties and other restrictive regulations of commerce (except, where necessary, those permitted under Articles XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV and XX) are eliminated with respect to substantially all the trade between the constituent territories of the union or at least with respect to substantially all the trade in products originating in such territories, and,
(ii) subject to the provisions of paragraph 9, substantially the same duties and other regulations of commerce are applied by each of the members of the union to the trade of territories not included in the union;
|Agreement||Date (in force)||Recent reference|
|Andean Community (CAN)||1988-05-25||L/6737|
|Caribbean Community (CARICOM)||1991-01-01|
|Central American Common Market (CACM)||2004-10-06||WT/REG93/R/B/2|
|East African Community (EAC)||2005-01-01||WT/COMTD/N/14|
|Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC)||1999-06-01|
|Eurasian Customs Union (EACU)||2010-07-01|
|European Union Customs Union (EUCU; EU-Monaco)||1958|
|? EU-Andorra Customs Union||1991-07-01||WT/REG53/M/3|
|? EU-San Marino Customs Union||2002-04-01|
|? EU-Turkey Customs Union||1996-01-01||WT/REG22/M/4|
|Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)||2015-01-01|
|Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR)||1991-11-29||WT/COMTD/1/Add.17|
|Southern African Customs Union (SACU)||1910||WT/REG231/3|
|West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU)||1994-01-10||WT/COMTD/N/11/Add.1|
Additionally, the autonomous and dependent territories such as some of the EU member state special territories are sometimes treated as separate customs territories from their mainland states or have varying arrangements of formal or de facto customs union, common market and currency union (or combinations thereof) with the mainland and in regards to third countries through the trade pacts signed by the mainland state.