"On June 6, 2003, the United States signed a bilateral free-trade agreement (FTA) with Chile. A month earlier, the United States had signed a bilateral FTA with Singapore. On July 15, 2003, implementing bills for the FTAs (Chile--H.R. 2738/S. 1416; Singapore-- H.R. 2739/S. 1417) were introduced in the House and Senate. The Bush Administration is making these and other bilateral and regional FTAs more important elements of U.S. trade policy, a strategy known as 'competitive liberalization.' This strategy is designed to push forward trade liberalization simultaneously on bilateral, regional and multilateral fronts. It is meant to spur trade negotiations by liberalizing trade with countries willing to join FTAs, and to pressure other countries to negotiate multilaterally. Some argue, however, that the accent on regional and bilateral negotiations undermines the multilateral forum and increases the risk of trade diversion away from competitive countries that are not in the trade bloc."
CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB10123
U.S. Department of State: http://fpc.state.gov/