19 April 2005

WTO welcomes public access to historical GATT documents on the Internet

The World Trade Organization (WTO) welcomes the launch by Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources (SULAIR) of a website to permit public access to de-restricted documents of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the predecessor of the WTO.

“The WTO has worked with SULAIR to make this historic collection accessible to the public as part of our on-going efforts to share information that contributes to a better understanding of the WTO and the multilateral trading system,” said WTO Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi. “The work carried out by SULAIR to scan these thousands of documents and make them available through the Internet will be especially important for academics, trade specialists and others with an interest in how the trading system evolved in the GATT era, from 1947 to 1994.”

Another objective of the project carried out by SULAIR and the WTO was to ensure the preservation of this unique collection of documents, which had until now only been available in the original paper versions. The collection being made available by SULAIR consists essentially of English language documents.

The WTO website currently offers public access to over 150,000 WTO official documents in English, French and Spanish from 1995 to the present. The addition of GATT documents from 1947 to 1994 on the SULAIR website will be a complement to the WTO collection.

The WTO Secretariat has worked with the SUL team to sort and organize the GATT documents, under an agreement which saw SULAIR assume the costs for the work of scanning and converting the documents to electronic versions.