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The world trading system without US leadership

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Robert Baldwin, VOXEU, 17 de mayo de 2010

Since the signing of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1948, the US has been the world leader in promoting the reduction of tariffs and nontariff trade barriers among nations and establishing trading rules that serve to maintain the liberalisation achieved.

Among the achievements under US leadership have been:

- The negotiation of eight multilateral tariff-reducing negotiations that reduced average tariffs on industrial goods among industrial countries from 40% in the late 1940s to the current level of less than 4%;

- The negotiation of a series of codes of good behaviour covering such nontariff trade barriers as subsidies and countervailing duties, anti-dumping practices, safeguards, government procurement practices, customs valuation and licensing, and technical trade barriers (standards);

- The extension of GATT rules to cover services and trade-related intellectual property rights; and the creation of a meaningful disputes settlement system.

Obama’s backing away from leadership on trade

Yet the Obama administration has backed away from this leadership role.

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