However, these advantages must be offset by a disadvantage: by excluding some countries, these agreements can transfer the composition of trade from low-cost countries that are not parties to the agreement to high-cost countries that are. As a multilateral trade agreement, GATT calls on its signatories to extend the status of the Most Preferred Nation (MFN) to other trading partners participating in the WTO. MFN status means that each WTO member enjoys the same tariff treatment of its products in foreign markets as the “preferred” country that competes in the same market, thus excluding preferences or discrimination from a Member State. The advantage of these bilateral or regional agreements is to promote stronger trade between the parties to the agreement. They can also accelerate global trade liberalization when multilateral negotiations find themselves in trouble. Reluctant countries that are excluded from bilateral agreements and therefore do not participate in the increase in trade they involve may then be tasked with joining accession and removing their own trade barriers. Proponents of these agreements have called the process “competitive liberalization,” in which countries are challenged to reduce trade barriers in order to stay in touch with other countries. Thus, shortly after nafta was implemented, the EU sought and finally signed a free trade agreement with Mexico to ensure that European products were not at a competitive disadvantage in the Mexican market as a result of NAFTA. A definite prognosis is that international trade agreements will continue to be controversial. On the other hand, some local industries benefit. They are finding new markets for their duty-free products. These industries are growing and employing more labour. These compromises are the subject of endless debate among economists.
These occur when one country imposes trade restrictions and no other country responds. A country can also unilaterally relax trade restrictions, but this rarely happens. This would penalize the country with a competitive disadvantage. The United States and other developed countries do so only as a kind of foreign aid to help emerging countries strengthen strategic industries that are too small to be a threat. It helps the economies of emerging countries to develop and creates new markets for the United States.