The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT, was a significant international treaty that aimed to improve international trade relations by reducing tariffs and other trade barriers. The agreement was signed in 1947 and remained in effect until it was eventually replaced by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995.
The GATT agreement was signed by 23 countries in 1947, including the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Canada. Over time, the number of signatories grew to 123 countries by the time the agreement was replaced by the WTO.
The GATT agreement was designed to promote free trade among member countries by reducing or eliminating tariffs and other trade barriers. The agreement established a system of negotiation and dispute resolution to help countries settle disagreements over trade issues.
One of the key principles of the GATT agreement was the concept of Most Favored Nation (MFN) treatment. This means that any tariff reduction or other trade concession made to one country must also be extended to all other countries that are members of the GATT. This helped to ensure that member countries would not discriminate against each other and would promote a level playing field for international trade.
Another important aspect of the GATT agreement was the establishment of the GATT Secretariat, which served as a forum for member countries to negotiate and discuss trade issues. The Secretariat also played a role in providing technical assistance to developing countries to help them participate more effectively in international trade.
While the GATT agreement was successful in promoting international trade and reducing tariffs, it also faced criticism for its lack of attention to issues such as labor standards and environmental protection. These issues were addressed in subsequent international trade agreements, including the WTO.
Today, the GATT agreement remains an important historical document in the development of international trade relations. The full text of the GATT agreement is available as a PDF online, providing a valuable resource for anyone interested in studying the history of international trade.