There was a lot of democratic public debate around the world during the almost seven years
(1986-94) of the negotiations, including in the United States. The pressure of public
opinion determined countries' positions in the negotiations. The final ratification
period, from the signing in April 1994 to December 1994, was no more than that: a final
period of a long negotiation that included more than 100 countries, not only the US.
All countries had the option to accept or reject the agreement. However, by 1994 any
attempt to amend the agreement would have meant reopening the negotiation which had
already taken seven and a half years. It would probably have killed the agreement. WTO
member governments and parliaments decided that would have been the worst option.
Agreement was reached
because all participating countries believed they had reached the point where on balance
the benefits outweighed the discomfort, both politically and economically. Such a bargain
could not have been struck if countries were allowed individually to pick and choose only
the bits they preferred.
All countries had to face changes that were domestically unpopular. But they considered
this to be outweighed by the benefits of the package. In many cases, other countries had
to accept changes demanded by the United States.