Developing Countries and the Multilateral Trading System: From the GATT to the Uruguay Round and the Future

Developing Countries and the Multilateral Trading System: From the GATT to the Uruguay Round and the Future

Developing Countries and the Multilateral Trading System: From the GATT to the Uruguay Round and the Future

Developing Countries and the Multilateral Trading System: From the GATT to the Uruguay Round and the Future

Synopsis

This work evaluates the interaction between developing countries & the multilateral trading system since World War II & describes the achievements & failures of the Uruguay Round of the Multilateral Trade Negotiations in that context. Among other issues, it addresses possible linkages between trade policies & environmental & labor standards, the opportunities & threats regionalism poses to a global trading system, & the consequences for developing countries of cooperation between the World Trade Organization (WTO), the IMF, & the World Bank.

Excerpt

The Uruguay Round (UR) of the multilateral trade negotiations (MTNs), the latest, eighth, and most ambitious of a series of such negotiations, was formally concluded with the signing on April 15, 1994, at Marrakech, Morocco, of the Final Act, which embodies all the multilateral and plurilateral agreements of the round. The first round, held in Geneva in 1947, resulted in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The UR agreements extended multilateral rules and disciplines to trade in services, trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights, and investment measures. They also brought trade in agriculture and textiles back into the GATT. The Final Act included the decision to establish a formal organization called the World Trade Organization (WTO) "to provide the common institutional framework for the conduct of trade relations among its members in matters related to the (Uruguay Round) agreements" (GATT 1994: 6). Ministers representing the 124 governments and the European communities that participated in the UR affirmed in their declaration at the signing of the Final Act "that the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) ushers in a new era of global economic cooperation, reflecting the widespread desire to operate in a fairer and more open multilateral trading system for the benefit and welfare of their peoples" (GATT 1994: iv).

Concentrated protectionist producer interests often have considerably more political power within countries as compared to diffused consumer interests. Negotiations under the GATT have served to redress this imbalance in political power within countries through reciprocal liberalization of trade barriers between countries. All the eight rounds of the MTNs, including the UR, reduced tariff barriers. The last two, the Tokyo Round and the UR, attempted to set up discipline guidelines regarding the use of nontariff barriers. An important aspect of the evaluation of the UR is the quantitative impact of the reduction of trade barriers on the volume of trade and on welfare in the short and long run. A number of studies attempt to do precisely that, and in Chapter 5, I will briefly turn to them.

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