The Pros And Cons Of Multilateralism

854 Words4 Pages
Two pillars of multilateralism—the United States and Canada—are currently engaged in bilateral negotiations that, in the words of Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulrony, should produce the "broadest possible package of mutually beneficial reductions in barriers to trade in goods and services." Why do two countries which profess to prefer multilateralism over bilateralism or plurilateralism appear so eager to simply bypass the multilateral negotiating process? Can the world’s two largest trading partners actually conclude an accord that provides a model of trade liberalization for other members of GATT (the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade)? The agenda of issues shaping Canada-U.S. talks encompasses most of the questions to be debated within the multilateral framework. Since negotiations of GATT in the late 1980s will be more complex and protracted than in previous negotiations, it is believed that a Canadian U.S. agreement could provide momentum for the consensus-building process that must underlie any multilateral agreement; yet, there is always the danger that a bilateral arrangement will be accompanied by provisions for exclusions and trade management in sensitive sectors that could weaken GATT and undermine its decision-making process. The challenge facing Canada and the U.S. is one of bridging the gap between the bilateral and mutilateral objectives in an attempt to outline the foundations of' a framework for multilateral trade liberalization. There is no doubt
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