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date: 28 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and its successor, the World Trade Organization (WTO), are generally regarded as the most successful international economic organizations established in the post-World War I period. The most important accomplishment of the GATT/WTO has been a significant reduction in the levels of tariffs and non-tariff trade barriers that emerged during the great depression of the 1930s. This article highlights the successful empirical record of the GATT and the WTO in the areas of trade liberalization and dispute resolution. It also explores theories of political economy to explain why countries need to form trade agreements at all (and why they do not commit readily to unilateral trade liberalization, despite the promise of its benefits). The article first considers the terms of trade externalities and the approaches used to offset market imperfections and long-term protectionism, before concluding by discussing negotiating techniques and results.

Keywords: World Trade Organization, trade barriers, Tariffs and Trade, dispute resolution, trade liberalization, trade agreements, trade externalities, protectionism, market imperfections, political economy

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