When several countries are members of several different trade pacts, which ones take precendence over the others when they conflict with each other?

Japan is for example member of several trade pacts and so is South Korea, so when the rules within these pacts conflict with each other which one of them take precedence over the others? Or are they all considered equal to each other or have provisions for all the different trade pacts already signed and put in place?


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    I doubt a country would enter into a trade agreement which conflicted with any current trade agreements they held. Having said that, do you have an example of an actual trade agreement conflict?
    – NetServOps
    Jun 28, 2021 at 1:46

2 Answers 2


The trade agreements are all entirely separate.

If your country has separate agreements with countries A, B, and c, then all goods and services traded between you and your customers/suppliers are governed by the agreement between your country and the country the goods etc are going to/coming from.

However, some deals can be rather complex; e.g. delivery to a site in country A, invoices to a site country B, and payments made from country C. What rules are then applied need the detains of the individual trade agreements.


Trade agreements often have dispute resolution clauses. These define the institutions and processes to resolve disputes. These would normally be of the form of an arbitration committee that is there to sort the mess out. If nothing else is available the normal fallback is the dreaded World Trade Organization rules.

All of these processes are like any pseudo-legal process : long, expensive and painful for all involved. This is why trade negotiations tend to take a very long time to conclude and why they tend to be extremely detailed documents (or sets of documents).

It's not uncommon for nations to start mini-trade wars, usually involving tariff impositions on a tit-for-tat basis, to try and bully each other into giving in. These rarely result in anything but unemployment and usually end up being resolved quietly by diplomats, having been started noisily by politicians purely for domestic political reasons and not for any realistic purpose or objective.

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