A final argument is that plurilaters are multiplying, creating confusion in the trading system because of conflicting rules, particularly rules of origin, which greatly increase uncertainty in the system and cause compliance problems for businesses. The term “multilateral agreement” is used within the World Trade Organization. A multi-lateral agreement implies that WTO member states would have the choice of adopting new rules on a voluntary basis. This runs counter to the multilateral AGREEMENT of the WTO, to which all WTO members are parties to the agreement. The public procurement agreement is a typical multi-lateral agreement. Ambassador Lighthizer recently revived a topic that scientists have discussed in the past, but which has generally not been the subject of political debate in the United States – whether the continuation of regional or multilateral agreements poses a threat to the multilateral trading system. He did so with a biblical reference in calling the European Commission a Pharisee for the defence of multilateralism and the exercise of bilateralism. What is remarkable is that this government, despite little evidence, with the exception of the vice-president, liked to use the Bible as an accessory that each of them had actually read it. The ambassador receives points to remember his Catholic upbringing, and he is right about his characterization of European hypocrisy, but his next argument, that we should not have both at the same time and that we must vote instead, is more complex. Let`s consider the arguments for and stupid.
A more subtle argument, and I want to say to my trade colleague, Scott Miller, that he has explained this argument, is that multilateral agreements discourage countries from making multilateral concessions. If, for example, you are in Vietnam and, as a result of the comprehensive and progressive trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) agreement, you now have zero tariffs with Japan (and other partners) on a wide range of issues, you are much less interested in a multilateral agreement that would reduce tariffs for all , because it would sweeten the advantage you have with Japan. There are advantages to being in the tent, so to speak, but the more you let the tent in, the smaller your particular advantage will be. The international milk agreement and the international beef agreement were abolished at the end of 1997. The countries that signed the agreements have decided that the sectors will be better treated under the agreements on agriculture and plant health and protection. Some aspects of their work have been hampered by the small number of signatories. For example, some major dairy exporters did not sign the milk agreement and the attempt to cooperate on minimum prices failed in 1995.