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International Trade Law : Research Guide

Introduction to GATT and WTO

The General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) was enacted as an attempt to reduce the number of tariffs and trade barriers and to foster international trade in the years following World War II. It was signed in 1947 by over 100 countries and has served the international community for decades. Under the auspices of GATT there have been numerous rounds of trade negotiations on a variety of issues. Beginning in 1986, the Uruguay Round negotiations included the areas of tariffs, services and intellectual property. Over seven years of negotiations, the GATT agreements evolved into their current state. The Uruguay Round concluded in 1994 with numerous agreements to reduce trade barriers and institute more enforceable world trade rules. One of the major results of the Uruguay Round was the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which officially began operations on January 1, 1995. The WTO is a multilateral organization with the mandate to establish enforceable trade rules, to act as a dispute settlement body and to provide a forum for further negotiations into reducing trade barriers. According to the WTO website, there are 147 WTO member countries and observer countries. For a complete list of the member countries, visit the WTO webpage (see description below). Beginning in 2001 and proceeding through at least 2005, the Doha Agenda represents the current round of negotiations.

The official citations for GATT are TIAS 1700 and 55 U.N.T.S. 194 and its Protocol of Provisional Application can be found at TIAS 1700 and 55 U.N.T.S. 308. The WTO agreement is located in the United Nations Treaty Series (U.N.T.S.), volumes 1867, 1868 and 1869. For the exact page location for the agreement you need, it is necessary to consult the U.N.T.S. volumes. As an example, the citation for the Final Act Embodying the Results of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations is 1867 U.N.T.S. 14. In addition to these locations, there are a number of places where one can find the text of the agreements establishing GATT and the WTO, as well as the history and development of the organizations. The Diamond Library contains numerous resources relating to GATT, the Uruguay Round and the WTO. Presented below are a selection of the library's resources which provide a good entry point for research in these areas.