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Bilateral trade agreements have been around for centuries, dating back to the Silk Road era when merchants from different countries came together to trade goods. However, it wasn`t until the 20th century that formalized bilateral trade agreements became commonplace.

One of the earliest bilateral trade agreements was the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which was signed in 1947. The GATT was a multilateral agreement between 23 countries, with the goal of reducing tariffs and promoting free trade. Over time, the GATT evolved and expanded to include more countries and issues, eventually leading to the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995.

While the GATT was a multilateral agreement, bilateral trade agreements started to gain popularity in the 1970s and 1980s. One of the first bilateral trade agreements was the United States-Israel Free Trade Agreement, signed in 1985. This agreement eliminated tariffs on most goods traded between the two countries and helped to strengthen economic ties between them.

Since then, bilateral trade agreements have become increasingly common, with countries signing agreements with each other to boost their own economies and increase trade. For example, the United States has signed numerous bilateral trade agreements with countries such as Australia, Canada, Chile, and Singapore.

One of the largest and most complex bilateral trade agreements in recent years is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP was negotiated between 12 countries, with the goal of reducing tariffs and promoting free trade. However, the TPP was not without controversy, with some critics arguing that it would harm certain industries and lead to job losses.

In recent years, the focus has shifted towards renegotiating existing bilateral trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In 2018, the United States, Mexico, and Canada agreed to a new trade deal called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which modernizes and updates NAFTA.

In conclusion, bilateral trade agreements have a long and complex history, dating back to the Silk Road era. While multilateral agreements like the GATT and WTO have played a significant role in promoting free trade, bilateral agreements have become increasingly important in recent years. As countries continue to renegotiate and update these agreements, it`s clear that they will continue to play a vital role in shaping the global economy.

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