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. Finally, there is the argument that all of this makes no difference, because there is virtually no real choice. The Doha Round has failed and is unlikely to return. A fisheries agreement remains a possibility, as is an agreement on e-commerce, but these are problematic and far more limited than the Tokyo round or the Uruguay Round agreements or what the Doha Round should be. 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. If it is the result of the limited number of negotiating states and the subject matter of a contract that the application of the treaty in its entirety between all parties is an essential condition of the agreement of each party which is supposed to be bound by the treaty, a reservation requires adoption by all parties.
 The curve has slowed in recent years, but the trend is evident and coincides with the difficulties of the Doha Round. In 2001, 91 cumulative regional trade agreements were in force and 305 are in force. This certainly indicates that the failure of one has influenced the success of others, but that does not mean that we have to choose. It is useful to continue efforts towards multilateral agreements, but knowing that failure will likely lead to more regional agreements. This is not to say that Europeans are not Pharisees, but it does indicate that it could be a smart policy to follow both paths at the same time. 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. 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.