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Global Institutions

International Trade Organization

The International Trade Organization (ITO) was one of the three institutions designed to maintain international economic cooperation after the Second World War. The Bretton Woods conference in 1944 provided a blueprint for the post-war international economy, which was to be regulated by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the ITO. The ITO’s proposed role was to facilitate a post-war era of free trade, which the US in particular saw as crucial for the maintenance of world peace and prosperity.

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade

The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) – a multilateral commercial treaty – was negotiated as an interim measure to facilitate tariff reductions until the full-fledged International Trade Organization (ITO) came into force. With the failure of the ITO, the GATT ended up regulating international trade for 47 years and became the main forum through which world trade was organised.

World Trade Organization

The World Trade Organization (WTO) came into being on 1 January 1995 with a membership of 128 countries. Nearly 50 years after the failure of the International Trade Organization, the dream of those who had worked for an international trade organisation had been realised.