The General Agreement On Tariffs And Trade Role

For the most part, GATT, as developed after 1947 and which became permanent within the World Trade Organization in 1994, represents three key elements that contribute to the monitoring of world trade and to the way in which national governments allow each other to intervene in this trade. The first is a set of mutually agreed limits (or rules) for the application of restrictive measures by national governments. These were originally defined in the general agreement itself, but were interpreted and developed both later in the negotiations and through the GATT dispute resolution process. The second is progressive liberalization, which must be achieved through negotiations on trade barriers and the removal of trade barriers. These rounds of negotiations, which ended on the basis of reciprocal concessions between member state governments, took place in the 1960s and 1970s (in the Kennedys and Tokyo Round) and in the 1980s until 1994 (in the Uruguay round). THE GATT continues to live as the foundation of the WTO. The 1947 agreement itself no longer exists, but its provisions were incorporated into the 1994 GATT agreement. Trade agreements should thus continue to operate during the wto`s implementation. That is why the 1994 GATT is an integral part of the WTO agreement. The Uruguay Round, held from 1986 to 1993 and culminating in the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), also broadened the topics for discussion, including intellectual property.

At the end of the Uruguay round, members signed the agreement on aspects of intellectual property rights that affect trade, commonly known as “TRIPS”. TRIPS has forced its members to harmonize some important elements of their patent, copyright and trademark laws. In the United States, Congress had to amend patent laws (which apply only to applications that came into effect on June 5, 1995), the most important of which were: (a) the calculation of patent duration; and b) the publication of pending patent applications. In December 1993, after seven years of negotiations, GATT reached an agreement between 117 countries, including the United States. This cycle took place in Uruguay and was therefore called the Uruguay Round. The final act on the outcome of the multilateral trade negotiations of the Uruguay Round was the agreement reached during this round, signed in April 1994. The World Trade Organization (WTO) was created as part of this agreement. The WTO is implementing the agreement and has also launched the current round in Doha. To join the WTO, a nation must apply for membership.

There are currently 164 members in the WTO.

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