Areas of Trade Liberalization
IF one reviews the world scene from the point of view of trade liberalization, it is clear that postwar progress has been limited. Although the hoped for international agency, the International Trade Organization, has not materialized, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade has operated as a stopgap and has succeeded in lowering tariffs substantially through a revolutionary device, that of multilateral trade agreement negotiation. It has had considerable effect in maintaining certain rules and policies in the field of commercial policy which were incorporated in the General Agreement. But there are certain areas within the totality which deserve special discussion.
Although a number of closer groupings have been attempted in western Europe since the war, the main regional grouping in this area, the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC), embraces all western European countries except Finland, Spain, and Yugoslavia. This organization, launched in order to give effect to the European Recovery Program, has continued even though the ERP as such has come to an end. Through the European Payments Union (which has the same membership) and the various committees of the Organization, it seeks to secure a harmonization of the economic and financial policies of its members. In this chapter, the trade aspects of its activity will be emphasized, the financial being discussed in Chapter VII.