World Trade after the Uruguay Round: Prospects and Policy Options for the Twenty-First Century

By Harald Sander; András Inotai | Go to book overview

2

THE URUGUAY ROUND OF MULTILATERAL TRADE NEGOTIATIONS

A preliminary assessment of results 1

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Information and Policy Analysis

A period of stagnation in world trade, pervasive drift to protectionism and erosion of confidence in the multilateral trading system followed suprisingly close on the heels of the Tokyo Round of multilateral trade negotiations, completed in 1979, which was designed to strengthen the system and liberalise trade. Already in the early 1980s these developments were beginning to be seen as a danger signal to the trading system. The GATT Ministerial meeting of November 1982, considering the multilateral trading system to be in serious danger, took a number of decisions on strengthening the system and initiated an elaborate work programme to this end. The sharply deteriorating international economic situation, the large amount of unfinished business from the Tokyo Round and lack of progress in the GATT work programme soon made it clear, however, that a new round of multilateral negotiations had become necessary. Those negotiations, the Uruguay Round, started with the Punta del Este Ministerial Declaration of September 1986 and were completed in December 1993. Some three years behind schedule, the agreement under the Uruguay Round comes into effect on 1 January 1995, subject to ratification, with implementation of some of its major elements spread over the next 10 years.

The major aims of the Uruguay Round, as set out in the Punta del Este Declaration were (a) to bring about further liberalisation and expansion of world trade in goods to the benefit of all countries, especially less developed countries, through improvement of access to markets by reduction and elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers and (b) to strengthen the role of GATT, improve the multilateral trading system and bring about a wider area of world trade in goods under effective multilateral disciplines. The Declaration also agreed to an immediate stop to further trade-restrictive measures inconsistent with GATT rules and to minimise the use of restrictive

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