Handbook on International Trade Policy
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Handbook on International Trade Policy

Edited by William A. Kerr and James D. Gaisford

The Handbook on International Trade Policy is an insightful and comprehensive reference tool focusing on trade policy issues in the era of globalization. Each specially commissioned chapter deals with important international trade issues, discusses the current literature on the subject, and explores major controversies. The Handbook also directs the interested reader to further sources of information.
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Chapter 4: Modern History of Trade Policy

William M. Miner


William. M. Miner Introduction The modern history of trade policy is the record of the development of the multilateral trade system. At the centre of the system is the World Trade Organization (WTO) which provides the common institutional framework for the conduct of trade relations among member governments. It is responsible for matters related to a series of agreements and legal undertakings, including the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and provides a framework for the development of a wider range of agreements and institutions related to trade. The GATT was established following the Second World War (WWII) by a group of industrial countries which agreed that their trade and economic relations ‘should be conducted with a view to raising standards of living, ensuring full employment and a large and steadily growing volume of real income and effective demand, . . . the full use of resources, and expanding the production and exchange of goods’.1 They also agreed this could best be achieved by substantially reducing tariffs and trade barriers and eliminating discriminatory treatment in international commerce. These objectives of the GATT, and its successor institution, the WTO, provided the guidance and framework for the trade policies of most nations and the many various agreements and institutions that comprise the multilateral trade system of the twenty-first century. Trade policies and trade agreements reflect the events and trends in the history of their evolution. They also exert a general influence on the forms and directions of trade...

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