Implications of the GATT Agreement for Iowa

John Kruse
May 1993  [94-BP 5]

What is the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)? The GATT may be best described as an ongoing process through which trade distortions among countries are defined and targeted for reduction. There have been seven previous GATT agreements over the years. The most recent GATT agreement represents the eighth round of trade negotiations and is often called the Uruguay Round in reference to Punta del Este, Uruguay, where the agenda was set in 1986. The Uruguay Round of trade negotiations was the first to focus directly on trade distortions in agriculture. Agricultural trade distortions were chosen primarily because of increasing budgetary constraints for agricultural programs around the world. An agreement from the Uruguay Round was finally reached in December 1993, after seven years of negotiations that involved 117 nations. Even though an agreement was reached, the U.S. Congress still has to approve the agreement for it to become U.S. law. With the agreement slated to take effect on July 1, 1995, the lawmakers will have to move rather quickly to pass implementing legislation if the GATT agreement is to be approved in its present form. It does not appear that GATT implementing legislation will be passed this fall. If GATT is not approved by Congress in the spring of 195, many of the agreements will have to be renegotiated.

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