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What Is The Main Objective Of A General Agreement On Tariffs And Trade (Gatt)

The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) on the protection of human, animal or plant health was so vague that many countries used “health requirements” as trade barriers. These concerns were taken into account in the rules on multilateral trade relations of the 1994 Uruguay Round, which brought food and agricultural products into the set of international trade rules. It led to the adoption of the SPS Enforcement Agreement (Laws, Regulations and Procedures) and an updated Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (OTC), which ensured fair and effective international trade on the basis of equity and access to global food markets. These agreements should define the conditions for transparency, equivalence, regionalization, harmonisation and national sovereignty when countries establish regulatory measures to ensure food security, consumer protection and plant and animal health. Unjustified health measures as impediments to trade have been discouraged unless such measures have scientific evidence and risk assessment principles. Through the World Trade Organization (WTO), there is a scientifically sound approach to negotiating and resolving conflicts to prevent food security from being an intractable barrier to trade. GATT strives to create a stable and predictable base for trade. It links the levels of tariffs negotiated between the contracting states. The commitment of tariffs prevents unilateral increases in tariffs, but there is still a provision for the renegotiation of related tariffs. A return to higher rates is deterred by the requirement that any increase be offset. The Uruguay Round Agricultural Agreement remains the most important agreement in the history of trade negotiations for the liberalisation of agricultural trade.

The aim of the agreement was to improve market access for agricultural products, reduce national aid to agriculture in the form of price-distorting subsidies and quotas, eliminate agricultural export subsidies over time and harmonize health and plant health measures among Member States as much as possible. The GATT had three main provisions. The most important requirement was that each member be obliged to confer the status of the most favoured country on any other member. All members must be treated the same with respect to tariffs. It excluded special tariffs between members of the British Commonwealth and the Customs Union. It allowed tariffs if their removal causes serious damage to domestic producers. Any industry that competes with industry and imports can ask its own government to protect itself under its anti-dumping law. Protection in the form of an anti-dumping duty (AD) (i.e. an import duty) may be granted if two conditions are met. First, the government must demonstrate that dumping, as defined above, does take place.

Second, the government must demonstrate that competing importing firms suffer or are threatened by material harm caused by dumped imports. The harm can result in lower revenues, lower incomes, lower employment or other indicators to reduce well-being. If both conditions are met, it is possible to introduce an AD rate equivalent to the dumping margin. At the end of the Uruguay round, countries agreed that AD tariffs should not apply more than five years until a review (so-called sunset revision) is required to determine whether dumping is likely to recur.


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