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Trade Policy

In the immediate aftermath of the failure of the Havana Conference (1947) which aimed at creating a very ambitious International Trade Organization (ITO), the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) was designed in great haste, and it was assigned modest objectives and means. From 1947 to 1995, the successive trade negotiations under the aegis of the GATT (called “Rounds”) were limited to industrial goods, opening only 20 to 30 percent of domestic GDPs to international competition.

In 1995, the eighth GATT Round, the Uruguay Round, gave birth to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The WTO has two major differences with GATT. It has a more elaborate legal structure, in particular a binding dispute settlement mechanism. And it has a much wider portfolio of trade issues to be dealt with: from farm trade (previously subject to a waiver allowing it to escape liberalisation) to intellectual property rights (now subject to broad, common provisions) and, above all, to trade in services which are activities still highly protected in almost all countries. This last aspect will become crucial during the coming years, hence its preeminent place in GEM’s research programme.


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