The con argument – the plurilateral does not undermine the trading system – consists of two parts. First, while plurilateral agreements can divert some of the trade, they create net trade and governments should take what they can get. In addition, the agreements are not only about tariffs and market access, but also about rules and standards. Plurilateral negotiations, in which participants may be more equal, offer a better opportunity to conclude ”gold standard” agreements, which go much further in the direction of open and rules-based trade than multilateral agreements that necessarily involve more compromise. Digital business language is an example of this, both in the agreement between the United States and Japan and in the agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada (USMCA). Of course, there are fewer people involved, but the mere existence of the agreement makes it a model for use in other agreements. In other words, countries could achieve significant trade liberalization gradually and not all at once. A plurilateral agreement is a multinational legal or trade agreement between countries. In economic jargon, this is an agreement between more than two countries, but not many, that would be a multilateral agreement.  Finally, there is the argument that none of this makes a difference, because there is no real choice in practice.
The Doha Round has failed and there is no chance of it coming back. A fisheries agreement remains a possibility, as is an e-commerce agreement, but both are problematic and much more limited than the Tokyo Round or the Uruguay Round or what the Doha Round should be. A more subtle argument, and I think of my trade colleague Scott Miller, whom he said, is that plurilateral agreements prevent countries from making multilateral concessions. If, for example, you are Vietnamese and under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) you now have zero tariffs with Japan (and other partners) on a wide range of items, you are much less interested in a multilateral agreement that will reduce tariffs for all, because that is the advantage you have with Japan, . . .