Mike Moore's speeches
Renato Ruggiero's speeches,
marks the 50th anniversary of the birth of the multilateral trading system. The creation
of this system surely ranks among the greatest economic achievements of the post-war era.
For the first time, the principle of non-discrimination in trade relations was applied on
a multilateral basis. Through this principle the same rights of market access were
extended to all 23 of the original signing nations, developed and developing alike. Today,
the World Trade Organization, the offspring of the GATT, has 132 members, all of which
have adopted the principle of non-discrimination. It is difficult to overstate the
contribution of this basic principle to growth and development on a world scale and to the
establishment of closer relations among nations.
"On 20 May 1998, we will
hold a high profile celebration to mark the occasion of these 50 years and highlight for
the citizens of the world, the contribution this system has made to global peace and
Note to Editors:
Attached is a
brief fact-sheet on the birth of the GATT.
The birth of GATT
birth of GATT. On 30 October 1947, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)
was signed by 23 nations - twelve developed and eleven developing economies - at the
Palais des Nations in Geneva. The Agreement contained tariff concessions agreed to during
the first multilateral trade negotiations and a set of rules designed to prevent these
concessions from being frustrated by restrictive trade measures.
genesis of GATT. In 1946, the newly-created Economic and Social Council of the United
Nations called a conference to consider the creation of the
International Trade Organization (ITO) which was envisaged as the
final leg of a triad of post-War economic agencies (the other two were
the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for
Reconstruction and Development - later the World Bank). A
preparatory committee was established to draft the ITO charter.
1946-1947, the committee worked on the draft charter. However, independent of this
official task under the UN mandate, the committee members
conducted tariff-cutting negotiations among themselves in advance of the ITO. These
negotiations resulted in about 45,000 tariff concessions affecting
some US$ 10 billion of world trade.
members also agreed to protect the value of the tariff concessions by early acceptance
of some of the trade rules of the draft ITO charter. Thus, tariff
concessions and trade rules together became known as the General Agreement on Tariffs and
Trade (GATT) which was signed on 30 October 1947 by 23 countries.
into force. On 1 January 1948, GATT entered into force. The 23 founding members were:
Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Burma, Canada, Ceylon, Chile, China, Cuba, Czechoslovakia,
France, India, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Southern
Rhodesia, Syria, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States.
real business of the GATT was conducted by the First Session of Contracting Parties
which began on 28 February 1948 and ended on 20 March 1948 in
Havana, Cuba. The secretariat of the Interim Commission for the
ITO, which served as the ad hoc secretariat of GATT, moved from Lake Placid, New
York, to Geneva in 1948.