Bilateral Agreement Definition and Meaning
In order to know the meaning of the term that concerns us now, the first thing we are going to do is fix the etymological origin of the two words that give it form:
-Agreement derives from Latin, specifically from the verbal form “accordare” that can be translated like “agree”.
-Bilateral, on the other hand, also comes from Latin and means “relative to both sides”. It is the result of the sum of several different components: the prefix “bi-“, which can be translated as “two”; “Latus”, which means “side”; and the suffix “-al”, which is used to indicate belonging.
An agreement is a pact, covenant, alliance, or arrangement that two or more parties establish. Bilateral, on the other hand, is that linked to two elements or sides.
A bilateral agreement is thus a commitment made by two parties. These agreements generate reciprocal obligations for both signatories, which can be punished in case of non-compliance.
According to Digopaul, it is common for bilateral agreements to be established between two countries to mutually promote certain financial, tax, political or other benefits. For example: a country X establishes a bilateral agreement with a nation Y to sell cars to it without paying tariff rates. In return, nation Y gets the same for its computers. In this way, country X sells cars and buys computers from nation Y without tariff rates involved, something that stimulates commercial operations between the two.
Two States can also establish a bilateral agreement so that their respective citizens can enter the territory of the other without the need for a visa. Thus these countries facilitate travel between the two, promoting tourism and business.
In both examples, the agreements are only valid for the signing countries. Country X that sold cars without tariff rates can only do so under these conditions with the nation with which it signed the bilateral agreement. As for the possibility that citizens of a State enter another territory without a visa, it is specified with respect to the country that established the agreement and is not valid with other nations.
In addition to all the above, we can emphasize that there are many types of bilateral agreements. Thus, for example, depending on the subject they deal with, they can be economic, humanitarian, political, social, cultural…
However, if the criterion taken into account is the type of obligations established in the same for the two countries, they can be divided into two groups: bilateral agreements in the form of a treaty-contract or with which they acquire the appearance of treaty-law.
In the same way, it should not be overlooked that, when it comes to bilateral agreements, multilaterals also come to mind. The latter, as its name suggests, are those that are characterized by not developing between two countries but between more, specifically between three or more.
As a general rule, multilaterals are economic in nature and aim to ensure that trade between the signatory nations can be regulated.