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  • Print publication year: 2003
  • Online publication date: September 2009

3 - Liberalizing trade in manufactures

Summary

The difficulties involved in reaching agreement at recent WTO meetings, particularly the ill-fated 1999 Seattle Ministerial, have overshadowed the disagreements, conflicts, and uncertainties involved in reaching the Uruguay Round agreement. This agreement was an achievement beyond the mere extension of previous GATT commitments, and even beyond its original goals. Aside from the (expected) reductions in tariffs, the Uruguay Round agreement extended the application of multilateral rules and disciplines to areas previously not covered by effective disciplines – trade in agriculture and in textiles and clothing. The agreement also extended multilateral rules and disciplines to trade in services (through the General Agreement on Trade in Services, or GATS), trade-related intellectual property rights (TRIPS) and trade-related investment measures (TRIMs).

At Singapore in 1996, the first WTO Ministerial Conference, which reviewed progress in implementing the Uruguay Round agreement, introduced a number of new issues, including trade and the environment; trade and foreign investment; trade and competition; and trade facilitation – as part of an expanded mandate for the organization. However, no agreement was reached on how to deal with these issues. Many of the divisions at this conference were along North–South lines, with developing countries lukewarm about giving priority to these new issues, and being more eager to focus on implementation of the Uruguay Round agreement.

These divisions re-emerged at the critical third Ministerial Meeting of the WTO, held in Seattle in November 1999.

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