The WTO: Ever Mutating, Planned Obsolescence or Unplanned Obsolescence? (CIGI)

When the founding fathers2 gathered at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, in July 1944, there emerged two-and-a-half pillars of modern global economic governance. The International Monetary Fund and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (better known as the World Bank) were full-fledged, treaty-based organizations with defined governance structures. The putative International Trade Organization (ITO) never got off the ground in the same manner. Although negotiations for an ITO were successfully completed in the Havana Charter in March 1948, the charter was not ratified by the US Congress, on the grounds that it intruded into domestic economic issues. Instead, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) became operational on January 1, 1948, with 23 members, including the United States. The GATT was a far-reaching document for its time. It was designed to overcome resistance and might have built in a planned obsolescence.

Rohinton P. Medhora

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