The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade History

The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was a global agreement designed to regulate international trade and reduce tariffs and other trade barriers. The agreement was signed on October 30, 1947, and came into effect on January 1, 1948. It was initially signed by 23 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Canada.

The primary objective of GATT was to promote free and fair trade among its member countries. The agreement required member countries to lower their tariffs, eliminate trade restrictions, and treat all trading partners equally. GATT provided a framework for negotiations on trade issues and facilitated the resolution of trade disputes.

GATT was successful in reducing tariffs and increasing international trade. In the years following its establishment, global trade increased substantially, and member countries` economies grew. By the end of 1993, the GATT had 128 member countries, and trade between member countries accounted for more than 70% of the world`s merchandise trade.

One of the most significant achievements of GATT was the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995. The WTO replaced GATT as the primary framework for regulating international trade. The WTO built upon GATT`s principles and expanded its scope to include services, intellectual property, and agriculture.

Despite its accomplishments, GATT faced some challenges and criticisms. Some developing countries argued that the agreement favored developed countries, as they had more power in negotiations and could afford to lower their tariffs more easily. Others argued that GATT did not adequately address non-tariff barriers to trade, such as trade-distorting subsidies and regulations.

In conclusion, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade was a landmark agreement that facilitated international trade and economic growth. It laid the groundwork for the current system of global trade, and its principles continue to guide international trade negotiations today. Although GATT faced criticism, it remains a significant achievement in the history of international trade.