[Publisher:] Institut für Weltwirtschaft (IfW) [Place:] Kiel [Year:] 1984
Kiel Working Paper 199
As economic theory shows and experience underlines, international trade and the specialization associated herewith is one important source of economic growth, employment creation and technological innovation in participating countries. In awareness of this potential for increasing economic prosperity throughout the world, the architects of the international trading system, which was to emerge from the ashes of World War II, envisaged a framework of rules leading to, and securing, open markets. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which came into being in 1948, laid down such trade rules, basically the principles of non-discrimination and multilateralism in world trade. The aim was not to establish free trade, without any government intervention. What was meant is liberal trade, in which governments may interfere, but using price measures which are transparent and do not rule out competition (i.e. non-prohibitive tariffs rather than quantitative restrictions or subsidies). Adherence by the member countries to the principles of multilateralism and non-discrimination was expected to give rise to the production of an international public good: stability and predictability of trade rules.