1998 marks the 50th Anniversary of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), one of the foundations of the post World War II free trade system. For the first time, the principle of non-discrimination in trade was applied on a multilateral basis. Through this principle the same rights of market access were extended to all 23 of the original signing nations, developed and developing alike. Today, the World Trade Organization, the offspring of the GATT, has 132 members, all of which have adopted the principle of non-discrimination. It is difficult to overstate the contributions of GATT and the WTO to growth and development and yet today the system is under increasing attack as it heads into the next century.
The Brookings Institution hosts this day-long celebration of GATT’s 50th Anniversary, which will feature keynote addresses and panels discussing the present and future challenges the world trading system faces as it enters a new era of high-technology and globalization. This 50th anniversary of GATT will culminate later this spring in Geneva.