WTO plurilateral agreements: A multilateral approach in action


  • Renata Orłowska University of Gdansk, Faculty of Economics, Poland
  • Agnieszka Dorożynska University of Lodz, Faculty of Economics and Sociology, Poland




regional trade agreements, multilateral trade system, MFN, joint statement initiatives, WTO


Background: The World Trade Organization (WTO), established in 1995, emphasizes multilateralism, necessitating unanimous consent for decisions and agreements among member states. However, the intricate nature of global trade often hinders unanimous agreement. To address this, the WTO has seen the rise of plurilateral agreements, which differ from purely multilateral ones. Plurilateral agreements involve specific WTO members negotiating commitments in particular policy areas. Unlike standard regional trade agreements, plurilaterals offer flexibility, allowing participating states to address issues of economic interest. This approach enables tailored solutions and promotes collaboration among like-minded countries to advance shared objectives without universal consensus.

Research purpose: This article explores the realm of WTO plurilateral agreements, examining their structure, evolution, and impact on the multilateral trading system. It delves into the dynamics of these agreements, which offer a practical avenue for addressing pressing trade-related issues. By scrutinizing the interplay between plurilateral agreements and the overarching principles of multilateralism within the WTO, this research aims to shed light on the extent to which plurilateral complements the multilateral approach, contributing to a deeper understanding of the evolving global trade landscape.

Methods: This article employs a mixed-method research methodology, which includes a thorough literature review, analysis of relevant reports on plurilateral agreements, and examination of secondary data sources. The study combines quantitative and qualitative analyses within GATT/WTO activities to assess changes in plurilateral agreements. Data on plurilateral agreements were sourced from the WTO database and ministerial reports. This dual approach offers a robust framework for comprehensively evaluating the evolving landscape of plurilateral agreements in the GATT/WTO framework.

Conclusions: WTO plurilateral agreements offer enhanced flexibility in trade governance and play a pragmatic role in addressing complex trade issues. While they do not replace the fundamental principle of multilateralism, they serve as complementary mechanisms to facilitate progress on specific trade-related issues. These agreements also have the potential to influence the evolution of trade governance and support multilateralism within the WTO, providing tailored solutions in a dynamic global trade landscape.


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How to Cite

Orłowska, R., & Dorożynska, A. (2023). WTO plurilateral agreements: A multilateral approach in action. Studia Prawno-Ekonomiczne, 129, 119–138. https://doi.org/10.26485/SPE/2023/129/8




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