Amid scenes of exhilaration, officials from 117 countries
approved on Wednesday a world trade treaty that they hailed as
opening up markets and spurring economic growth into the 21st
The new General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT,
slashes tariffs on thousands of manufactured products, smashing
export barriers on everything from computer chips to potato chips.
It also expands for the first time the rules of world trade to
cover agricultural products and the rapidly expanding services
"I intend to raise this gavel and to conclude the Uruguay Round
as a success after seven long years," said Peter Sutherland, head
of the trade talks, as he banged the table to loud applause and the
flash of cameras.
The endorsement of GATT followed years of negotiations, missed
deadlines and wars of words. It was clinched virtually overnight
after the United States and European Community resolved their
"Today the world has chosen openness and cooperation instead of
uncertainty and conflict," Sutherland said. "I am convinced that
today will be seen as a defining moment in modern economic and
But the 400-page agreement still faces contentious legislative
battles before it can take effect in 1995. It must be formally
signed in Morocco in April; in the United States, Congress cannot
begin debating the measure before April 15, at the earliest.
President Bill Clinton called the pact an early Christmas gift
that "cements our position of leadership in the new global economy."
Clinton also said, "This agreement did not accomplish
everything we wanted . . . but today's GATT accord does meet the
test of a good agreement."
Two key members of Congress, Senate Finance Committee Chairman
Daniel P. Moynihan of New York and House Ways and Means Committee
Chairman Dan Rostenkowski of Illinois, also welcomed the conclusion
of the negotiations.
"Our job now is to determine whether the agreement serves the
best economic interests of the United States and, further, how to
`pay for' the resultant loss of tariff revenue," Moynihan said.
Rostenkowski, a Democrat from Illinois, said the effort of the
U.S. negotiating team "was an investment that will pay off in the
creation of a larger and healthier international economy in the
Rep. Lee H. Hamilton, D-Ind., chairman of the House Foreign
Affairs Committee, said he expected Congress to approve the accord.
But he added: "I make that assertion with less confidence than I
did a few weeks ago."
The agreement will establish a new World Trade Organization
with tougher enforcement powers to succeed the General Agreement on
Tariffs and Trade agency, based here in Geneva. The change became
possible after the United States was satisfied that the new agency
would be unable to overturn U.S. trade laws.
There were a number of compromises in the final days of
bargaining as various protected industries successfully fought to
retain their barriers against foreign competition. …