The Doha Round: between suspension and revival
To avoid a return to the disorders of trade between the two world wars, Western countries concluded an Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in October 1947. GATT "General Agreement Tariffs and Trade" gradually removed all barriers to trade through international discussions, or through multilateral negotiation rounds. This agreement was based on four principles: a non-discrimination clause that included the most favored nation and national treatment, elimination of quantitative restrictions on exports, the general lowering of tariffs and progressive Customs, and the prohibition of dumping and export subsidies.
Exceptions to these principles were provided for developing countries (DCs) whose economy was threatened by foreign competition and by severe deficit in the balance of payments. In addition, Article 14th of GATT permits the establishment of free trade areas and customs unions, although they deviated from the principle of most favored nations. Despite its temporary nature, the GATT remained the only multilateral organization governing international trade until the end of 1994.
From 1947 to 1994, eight rounds of multilateral trade negotiations were held under the auspices of GATT and helped raise tariffs on manufactured products average 40% in 1947 to less than 4%. The first five rounds (Geneva round, round Annecy, Torquay round, and round Geneva Dillon Round) were devoted exclusively to the reduction of customs duties.
It is from the sixth round of negotiations that the subject of multilateral trade negotiations has widened with the introduction of anti-dumping regulations and non-tariff measures. The last round of the GATT Uruguay Round was the longest and most innovative of the GATT rounds launched in 1986 and adopted in 1994. The Final Act of Uruguay signed in Marrakech in 1994 expanded the scope of the negotiations on subjects not previously covered by GATT including agriculture, trade in services, textiles and intellectual property and allowed the creation of the WTO (World Trade Organization).
With the WTO, trade liberalization is supported by a true international organization with a permanent institutional framework. The aim is not only to define the rules governing international trade, but also to ensure compliance by member states and ensure a fair settlement in cases of trade disputes through the dispute settlement body (DSB). Today, the WTO is an organization of approximately 150 Member States, with the accession of Vietnam January 10, 2007, in which a number of other countries seek admission.
Since its inception, six Ministerial Conferences have been held. The first held in Singapore in 1996 expanded the program to the WTO work on new topics: investment, competition, trade facilitation and transparency in government procurement. The second session of the Ministerial Conference of WTO held in Geneva in 1998 included electronic commerce in the field of multilateral negotiations.
The third conference in turn held in Seattle in December 1999 was the launch of a new round of multilateral negotiations "the Millennium Round." However, the divergence between the U.S. and EU on agriculture in developing countries and the opposition launched a new round of multilateral negotiations.
Tags: General Agreement Tariffs and Trade, international trade, multilateral trade, World Trade Organization, Ministerial Conferences
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