Plurilateral Trade Agreements and the Impact on LDC's - to Participate or not to Participate?

Plurilateral trade agreements (PTAs) are voluntary agreements of a sectoral nature that are entered into by more than two WTO member states. The WTO membership is to be notified of PTAs when signatories decide to formally incorporate a PTA into the WTO architecture. However, member states’ decision to embark on plurilateral negotiations does not require formal consideration by WTO members not party to these negotiations. The overarching purpose of this project was to understand what factors limit developing country and least-developed country (LDC) participation in the plurilateral agreements currently being negotiated by a variety of countries in different formations. The aim was to promote greater inclusivity in plurilateral agreements and their negotiation. Therefore, the research aimed to identify, analyse and understand developing countries’ lack of engagement in plurilateral agreements, and to quantify the losses resulting from their non-participation. This report provides information on three in-depth case studies looking at Chile, Bangladesh and Malawi. Each of the countries provides a perspective on plurilateral negotiations relating to their respective social and economic development levels. Of the three, Chile is the only country participating in a plurilateral negotiation, namely the TiSA.