This chapter provides an overview of the global trade architecture by stressing its coherence, while noting that at fi rst sight such coherence may not be distinguished, given the plurality of trade arrangements. The overview is structured along three main axes: a theoretical background, the trade regime’s main institutional confi guration and the evolution of the substantive trade agenda. Regime theory, the theoretical perspective adopted in this chapter, is instrumental in highlighting the global trade architecture’s leitmotiv (the tension between coherence and fragmentation), to which that architecture has been subject since its inception. On the one hand, actors’ expectations have converged around a multilateral trade order governed by the principles of non-discrimination, most-favoured nation and national treatment, especially during the second half of the twentieth century. On the other hand, the proliferation of regional negotiation forums with disparate thematic agendas and the ascent of new actors such as the emerging countries and non-governmental actors refl ect a pervasive tendency towards fragmentation.