GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade)

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), former specialized agency of the United Nations. It was established in 1948 as an interim measure pending the creation of the International Trade Organization. However, plans for the latter were abandoned and GATT continued to exist until the end of 1995. Members of GATT were pledged to work together to reduce tariffs and other barriers to international trade and to eliminate discriminatory treatment in international commerce. The most important service of GATT was to negotiate multilateral extensions of tariff reductions through the application of the most-favored-nation clause. GATT also provided for regular meetings to consider other problems of international trade. An important GATT principle was that protection of domestic industries was to be done strictly through tariffs and not measures such as import quotas. The only exceptions permitted to GATT rules were those dealing with balance of payments difficulties, and these exceptions are carefully supervised. GATT provided the framework for most important international tariff negotiations from 1947 until 1994. The eighth, or Uruguay round, of GATT negotiations, which began in 1986 with 15 negotiating groups, was long stalemated by the issue of agricultural subsidies maintained by the European Community. The agreement that resulted (1994) from the Uruguay round led to the creation (1995) of the more powerful World Trade Organization (WTO) as a replacement for GATT. However, the GATT framework remained in place for a 12-month transition period.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

An Introduction to the WTO and GATT
Crowley, Meredith A.
Economic Perspectives, Vol. 27, No. 4, Winter 2003
The Political Economy of the World Trading System: From GATT to WTO
Bernard M. Hoekman; Michel M. Kostecki.
Oxford University Press, 1995
International Trade and Developing Countries: Bargaining Coalitions in the GATT & WTO
Amrita Narlikar.
Routledge, 2003
International Trade and Third World Development
Dilip Ghosh; Pradip K. Ghosh.
Greenwood Press, 1984
Librarian’s tip: "Export Subsidies in Developing Countries and the GATT" begins on p. 250
Trading Blows: Party Competition and U.S. Trade Policy in a Globalizing Era
James Shoch.
University of North Carolina Press, 2001
Librarian’s tip: "Ratifying the Uruguay Round GATT Accord" begins on p. 189
Human Rights, Labor Rights, and International Trade
Lance A. Compa; Stephen F. Diamond.
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "From Intention to Action: An ILO-GATT/WTO Enforcement Regime for International Labor Rights"
The United States and Multilateral Institutions: Patterns of Changing Instrumentality and Influence
Margaret P. Karns; Karen A. Mingst.
Routledge, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Six "Multilateral Diplomacy and Trade Policy: The United States and the GATT"
Regulation and Protectionism under GATT: Case Studies in North American Agriculture
Andrew Schmitz; Garth Coffin; Kenneth A. Rosaasen.
Westview Press, 1996
European Agriculture: Policies, Production, and Trade
Brian Gardner.
Routledge, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Impact of Cap Reform and the GATT Uruguay Round Agreement on Agricultural Trade"
International Trade: New Patterns of Trade, Production & Investment
Nigel Grimwade.
Routledge, 2000 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "Multilateralism versus Regionalism"
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