The GATT: Its Historical Role and Importance to Agricultural Policy and Trade
This chapter aims to provide some background to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and to the Uruguay Round negotiations in agriculture. The GATT slipped through on a technicality, as the US president has authority to negotiate and conclude “executive agreements” in the trade area. The GATT provides a set of rules which the “contracting parties” agree to observe; acts as a forum for the negotiation of changes in trade barriers; and provides a means of settlement of disputes. The tacit acceptance by most countries of the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Community, even though its major instruments have uncertain legality in the GATT, has reinforced the notion of the primacy of domestic policy in international trade discussions. The isolation of agriculture from the GATT began to change in the mid-1960s. The GATT effort culminated in the launching of the Uruguay Round in September 1986.