By Grimwade, Nigel
Publication: National Institute Economic Review
Date: Thursday, February 1 1996
In December, 1993, the round of multilateral trade negotiations known as the Uruguay Round was at last successfully concluded, seven years after it was launched at Punta del Este in Uruguay and three years later than it was scheduled to finish. This was the eighth and, almost certainly, the last round of GATT which is likely to take place on a similar basis. Up until the last minutes, it was uncertain whether any agreement would emerge. The final agreement was formally signed by the contracting parties at a gathering of Heads of State at Marrakech, Morocco and amidst great fanfare in April 1994. On January 1st, 1995, the provisions of the Agreement took effect, including the establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as the successor to the GATT.
Now that the ink is dry on the Uruguay Round Final Act and the formalities involved in setting up the WTO are largely complete, attention is bound to focus on the implementation of the Agreement and the effectiveness with which the WTO fulfils its mandate. The Agreement contains a number of important provisions both for improving existing market access in both industrial and agricultural products, for strengthening GATT rules in several important areas (anti-dumping, safeguards, subsidies) and for extending these rules to new areas (services, intellectual property rights, trade-related investment issues). A key aspect of the Agreement are the provisions for strengthening the GATT mechanisms for dispute settlement. A litmus test for the WTO in the first few years of its existence will undoubtedly be the effectiveness with which it resolves disputes arising between members and ensures that the recommendations of independent dispute panels are implemented.
One of the issues of outstanding importance will be the effectiveness of the new