The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was signed in 1947 to promote international trade and reduce barriers such as tariffs and quotas. It was replaced by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995, which now governs trade between its 164 member countries.
The GATT agreement had several rounds of negotiations, each focusing on reducing trade barriers. The most significant were the Kennedy Round in the 1960s and the Uruguay Round in the 1980s and 1990s. The Uruguay Round resulted in the creation of the WTO and the signing of several new agreements, including the Agreement on Agriculture, the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).
The GATT/WTO has been beneficial for global trade, allowing goods and services to be exchanged across borders and helping to bring about economic growth. However, it has also faced criticism, particularly regarding its impact on developing countries and the environment.
Some argue that the WTO`s focus on free trade has led to exploitation of developing countries and a race to the bottom in terms of labor and environmental standards. Others argue that the WTO`s rules have led to the homogenization of cultures and the loss of local traditions and practices.
Despite its criticisms, the GATT/WTO remains an important institution for global trade. It continues to negotiate trade agreements and resolve disputes between member countries. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, the need for a global trade organization like the WTO will only grow in importance.