These agreements between three or more countries are the most difficult to negotiate. The larger the number of participants, the more difficult the negotiations. They are, by nature, more complex than bilateral agreements, insofar as each country has its own needs and requirements. 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. APEC is examining the prospects and options for a free trade area in the Asia-Pacific region (FTAAP), which would include all APEC member countries. Since 2006, the APEC Business Advisory Council, which advocates the theory that a free trade area has the best chance of converging Member States and ensuring stable economic growth within the framework of free trade, has committed to creating a high-level task force to study and develop a free trade area plan.

The proposed free trade agreement was born out of a lack of progress in the World Trade Organization negotiations in Doha and a way to overcome the spaghetti bowl effect created by divergent and contradictory elements of the umpteenth free trade agreements. There are approximately 60 free trade agreements and another 117 are located in Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific region. Some countries, such as Britain in the 19th century and Chile and China in recent decades, have implemented unilateral tariff reductions – reductions that have been made independently and without contrary action by other countries. The advantage of unilateral free trade is that a country can immediately benefit from the benefits of free trade. Countries that remove trade barriers alone do not need to postpone reforms while trying to convince other nations to follow suit. The benefits of such trade liberalization are considerable: several studies have shown that incomes are rising faster in countries that are open to international trade than in countries that are more closed to trade. Dramatic examples of this phenomenon are the rapid growth of China after 1978 and India after 1991, with data indicating when major trade reforms took place. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) is a multilateral agreement regulating international trade. Regional trade agreements are very difficult to conclude and claim when countries are more diverse. While free trade is generally beneficial, removing a trade barrier to a given asset harms shareholders and workers in the domestic industry that produces that good. Some groups that are aggrieved by foreign competition have sufficient political power to protect themselves from imports.

As a result, despite their considerable economic costs, trade barriers continue to exist. For example, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission, the U.S. benefit from lifting trade restrictions on textiles and clothing would have been nearly $12 billion in 2002. This is a net economic benefit after deducting losses suffered by businesses and workers in the domestic industry. Nevertheless, local textile producers were able to convince Congress to maintain strict import restrictions. A trade agreement signed between more than two parties (usually neighbouring or in the same region) is considered multilateral. They face the main obstacles – to content negotiation and implementation. The more countries involved, the more difficult it is to achieve mutual satisfaction. Once this type of trade agreement is governed, it will become a very powerful agreement. The larger the GDP of the signatories, the greater the impact on other global trade relations.

The largest multilateral trade agreement is the North American Free Trade Agreement[5] between the United States, Canada and Mexico. [6] Second, multilateral removal of trade barriers can reduce political resistance to free trade in each of the countries concerned.