PTAs are becoming more complex, involving pacts between regions, as well as among neighbors or within the same broad geographical area. Thus, half of the PTAs currently in force are not strictly regional, as the growth of cross-regional accords has become particularly pronounced in the last decade. (Among other Arab states, Jordan is a good example of this phenomenon, with the kingdom’s participation in PTAs accelerating and becoming more widespread, transcending regional boundaries.) Such accords are also evolving towards integration that goes beyond tariffs and other measures at national borders to increasingly include domestic policies such as regulations on services and investment, intellectual property protection, and competition policy. These “deep” PTAs have less to do with tariffs than with the economy in general. The lower preferential tariffs within these free trade agreements no longer offer much of an advantage because MFN tariffs are already low. At the same time, various types of goods (and many services) continue to be excluded from preferential access, especially agricultural products. In this respect, the European Union remains culpable of signing free trade agreements that continue to impose serious restrictions on EU imports of food and other agricultural goods. (Association Agreements with Jordan and other regional states are examples of this.) PTAs can also be complicated by rules of origin. This is yet another factor in hampering Jordanian and other Arab exports to the EU, with the costs that companies face in meeting origin requirements sometimes higher than the benefit they perceive from the lower tariffs. Preferential margins may also give a misleading indicator of how advantageous a PTA is. PTA partners are often promiscuous, involved in multiple agreements. Consequently, the preferential access that an exporter enjoys in its partner’s market is soon eroded by the presence of other exporters favored under a PTA. (Typical of this issue has been the proliferation of US and EU PTAs with Arab states, with an “early signer” like Jordan seeing some of its advantages eroded by similar deals being struck later with neighboring states.) Furthermore, PTAs sometimes do not do a good job of liberalizing trade. Products that are sensitive and difficult to liberalize in the WTO also end up being tough to handle in PTAs, as in the case of EU food imports mentioned above. The lesson to be drawn from studying this “Multilateral/PTA” dichotomy is that though it is good for states to sign bilateral and other preferential accords, they are not without their drawbacks and pitfalls. For Arab states in the process of accession, the effort to join the WTO must be a serious one that is not devalued by the lure of PTAs. Yet, Arab attitudes towards the WTO are mixed, and indifference to or ignorance of the organization abounds. The Arab world is greatly underrepresented in the WTO, with only twelve out of 22 Arab League members having acceded, in this respect much weaker than other regions. In addition, Arab inter-country and non-state organizations do not much participate as observers. At the same time, there is growing interest in the WTO among the Arab states: three acceded after the organization was formed, while eight more are in the process. However, accession of Arab countries has tended to be more time-consuming than that of states in most others parts of the world; and for more Arab countries to finally join the WTO may take some time and involve much effort. Yet, such delays are not purely political. Lebanon’s accession for example is hampered by problems related to IPR and other economic issues, over a decade after the country applied for membership. Granted, such a delay for Beirut, as well as the long time taken to approve other Arab states' applications to negotiate accession, has much to do with politics. Yet, issues on the table in the accession process will be economic (no matter what diplomatic moves happen behind the scenes). The danger now in Arab states is that people against opening up to global markets could plead the existence of political obstacles in an effort to derail economic change and delay WTO accession. To help counter this, more training and technical assistance could be sought (as Jordan did, and Yemen and other Arab states are doing) to enhance trade-analytical capabilities. In this regard, Arab countries could also use accession negotiations as leverage for more aid from state donors. For example, if the US or EU grumble that Arab IPR situations leave much to be desired, regional states could counter with a demand for technical assistance from the West to improve things through training and public information campaigns. Accession also calls for changed public attitudes, but the media in this respect are not helpful, with many Arab economic journalists still unfamiliar with the WTO and incapable of enlightening the public about trade. For both Arab members and non-members, the advent of the Arab Spring with its emphasis on democracy and transparency means that some of the opaque or at least blurred aspects of existing PTAs or those being currently negotiated may have to be re-examined. In that respect, the WTO’s emphasizing transparently notifying and reporting on PTAs must be noted positively.