International trade regulation from GATT to the WTO

By Marjoss
  • 1947

    1947
    1947 October - 23 countries sign the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (Gatt) in Geneva, Switzerland, to try to give an early boost to trade liberalisation.
  • 1947

    1947
    1947 November - Delegates from 56 countries meet in Havana, Cuba, to start negotiating the charter of a proposed International Trade Organisation.
  • 1948

    1948
    1948 1 January - Gatt agreement comes into force.
  • 1948

    1948
    1948 March - Charter of International Trade Organisation signed but US Congress rejects it, leaving Gatt as the only international instrument governing world trade.
  • 1949

    1949
    1949 Second Gatt round of trade talks held at Annecy, France, where countries exchanged some 5,000 tariff concessions.
  • 1950

    1950
    Third Gatt round held in Torquay, England, where countries exchanged some 8,700 tariff concessions, cutting the 1948 tariff levels by 25%.
  • 1960

    1960
    1960-62 - Fifth Gatt round named in honour of US Under Secretary of State Douglas Dillon who proposed the negotiations. It yielded tariff concessions worth $4.9bn of world trade and involved negotiations related to the creation of the European Economic Community.
  • 1973

    1973
    1973-79 - The seventh round, launched in Tokyo, Japan, sees Gatt reach agreement to start reducing not only tariffs but trade barriers as well, such as subsidies and import licensing. Tariff reductions worth more than $300bn dollars achieved.
  • 1986

    1986
    1986-93 - Gatt trade ministers launch the Uruguay Round in Punta Del Este, Uruguay, embarking on the most ambitious and far-reaching trade round so far. The round extended the range of trade negotiations, leading to major reductions in agricultural subsidies, an agreement to allow full access for textiles and clothing from developing countries, and an extension of intellectual property rights.
  • 1994

    1994
    1994 - Trade ministers meet for the final time under GATT auspices at Marrakesh, Morocco to establish the World Trade Organization (WTO) and complete the Uruguay Round.
  • 1994

    1994
    Representing the 124 Governments and the European Communities, participants in the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations, on the occasion of the final meeting of the Ministerial-level Trade Negotiations Committee held in Marrakech, Morocco, from April 12 to 15, 1994.
  • 1995

    1995
    1995 - The WTO is created in Geneva.
  • 1996

    1996
    1996 - Information Technology Agreement on tariff-free trade in IT goods for some members.
  • 2001

    2001
    2001 November - WTO members meeting in Doha, Qatar, agree on the Doha Development Agenda, the ninth trade round which is intended to open negotiations on opening markets to agricultural, manufactured goods, and services
  • 2001

    2001
    2001 December - China formally joins the WTO. Taiwan is admitted weeks later.
  • 2002

    2002
    2002 August - WTO rules in favour of the EU in its row with Washington over tax breaks for US exporters. The EU gets the go-ahead to impose $4bn in sanctions against the US, the highest damages ever awarded by the WTO.
  • 2003

    2003
    2003 September - WTO announces deal aimed at giving developing countries access to cheap medicines, hailing it as historic. Aid agencies express disappointment at the deal.
  • 2003

    2003
    2003 September - World trade talks in Cancun, Mexico collapse after four days of wrangling over farm subsidies, access to markets. Rich countries abandon plans to include so-called "Singapore issues" of investment, competition policy and public procurement in trade talks.
  • 2003

    2003
    2003 December - WTO rules that duties imposed by the US on imported steel are illegal. US President Bush repeals the tariffs to avoid a trade war with the EU.
  • 2004

    2004
    2004 August - Geneva talks achieve framework agreement on opening up global trade. US and EU will reduce agricultural subsidies, while developing nations will cut tariffs on manufactured goods.
  • 2005

    2005
    2005 May - WTO agrees to start membership talks with Iran.
  • 2005

    2005
    2005 September - Frenchman Pascal Lamy takes over as WTO director general. He was formerly the EU's trade commissioner
  • 2005

    2005
    2005 October - US offers to make big cuts in agricultural subsidies if other countries, notably in the EU, do the same. EU responds, but France opposes more concessions
  • 2005

    2005
    2005 November - WTO approves membership for Saudi Arabia.
  • 2007

    2007
    2007 December - WTO clears way for Cape Verde's membership by approving a package of agreements which spell out the terms of it's accession. Cape Verde is expected to ratify the deal by June 2008.
  • 2008

    2008
    2008 November - G20 leaders meeting in Washington agree to "strive" for a major breakthrough in Doha talks by the end of the year.
  • 2009

    2009
    2009 March - WTO says global trade flows are set to shrink by 9% during 2009. Hardest hit will be developed nations, where trade is set to fall 10%. Poorer countries will see exports fall by 2-3%.
  • 2010

    2010
    2010 September - Leaks of WTO report say it will order more than $20bn of cuts in US government subsidies to the Boeing aircraft manufacturer.
  • 2010

    2010
    2010 November - G20 meeting of major economic powers in Seoul sees 2011 "window of opportunity" for the conclusion of the WTO Doha Round.
  • 2010

    2010
    2010 December - The European Union expresses support for Russia's bid to join the WTO after Moscow agreed to cut timber export tariffs and rail freight fees. Russia is the only major economy outside the WTO.
    China says it plans to appeal against a WTO ruling that the US was entitled to impose extra duties on Chinese tyre imports.
  • 2011

    2011
    2011 July - WTO upholds complaints by the US, European Union and Mexico that China had broken global free trade rules by imposing quotas and taxes on exports of certain key materials, including minerals like bauxite, magnesium and zinc. China complains.
  • 2011

    2011
    2011 December - Russia joins the WTO after 18 years negotiating its membership. Switzerland brokered a deal to persuade Georgia to lift its veto, which it had imposed after the 2008 Russo-Georgian war.
  • 2012

    2012
    2012 January - The WTO rejects China's appeal against a ruling that it broke free trade rules by imposing quotas and taxes on exports of key materials.
  • 2013

    2013
    2013 December - Trade ministers meeting in Bali agree on first global WTO deal, on cross-border commerce, which could add almost $1tn a year to the global economy
  • 2016

    2016
    164 Members since July 29, 2016, with the date of accession to the WTO.